THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH: TT Fortnight on the Isle of Man will start on May 30, 2015. It remains the ultimate test of man and machine. Image: Isle of Man Publicity Board
DOUGLAS, Isle of Man - There’s very little doubt that TT Fortnight, held annually on the Isle Man off the north-west coast of England for nearly 110 years, is the greatest motorcycle event on the planet.
It’s where private riders and factory teams rub shoulders to see who’s quickest in various classes over a 60km circuit that has more than 210 bends, the occasional hump-backed bridge, village squares, torturous hairpins and, of course, the very fast and famous mountain section – all taken-flat out!
SOLO, SIDECAR - AND ELECTRIC
Official practice will start on May 30 for TT Fortnight. This is usually undertaken in the early evening (remember, it only gets dark in northern Europe around 9.30pm at this time of year) and takes up the first week of the race fortnight.
Solo newcomers, sidecar competitors, those aboard battery-powered machinery, and, of course, the Superbike/Superstock stalwarts, finally get the chance to strut their stuff in ‘closed-road’ situations. The following week (June 6-12)… it’s the real thing.
Meanwhile, this past weekend (May 16/17) saw many of the leading TT race contenders turn out for the North West 200 races over in Northern Ireland on the 14km Portrush course with riders such as John McGuinness, Bruce Anstey, Ian Hutchinson and Lee Johnston, all vying for pre-TT honours.
McGuinness in particular put in some strong performances, with the Morecambe - an English holiday town just across the sea from Douglas - ace showing he was back to his best form after an injury-hit 2014 and with fine results of seventh and sixth in the Supersport and Superbike races respectively, a rider in confident mood before heading back across the water to Douglas to take part in the 2015 TT.
THREE TROPHIES FOR HUDSON
South African Hudson Kennaugh will return to the TT races after a four-year absence under the EBR (Erik Buell Racing) banner aboard one of the 1190cc RS machines. His sponsor, the Splitlath Group, is determined to continue flying the US bikemaker’s colours, albeit without factory support.
Kennaugh made his debut back in 2010 when he lapped at an average of 194.81km/h and picked up three bronze replicas. He then went on to win the 2013 Pirelli National Superstock 1000cc championship and currently occupies second overall in the 2015 series, having finished on the podium at each of the first three rounds including taking victory at the opening round at Donington Park.
Battery-bikes have gained more and more momentum each TT year and 2015 is likely to see more exposure than ever to this type of motorcycle racing.
AWESOME DUNLOP FAMILY
The SES TT Zero Challenge event for battery-bikes is a one-lap race round the island’s 60km Mountain Course scheduled for Wednesday, June 10 – weather permitting.
Another star rider, William Dunlop, said: “I’m more than excited to race this prototype at the Isle of Man. Electric power has many advantages and the Isle of Man is one of the greatest tests in motorcycle racing.”
• For the record Joey Dunlop, William’s father who died in 2000, holds the most TT wins (26), a feat that could mathematically be matched or beaten by McGuinness (21) at this year’s races.
Full 2015 TT programme
Qualifying: Saturday May 30 - June 5
Saturday, June 6
TT Superbike Race: 6 laps
TT Sidecar Race 1: 3 laps
Monday, June 8
TT Supersport Race 1: 4 laps
TT Superstock: 4 laps
Wednesday, June 10
TT Zero Challenge: 1 lap
TT Supersport Race 2: 4 laps
TT Sidecar Race 2: 3 laps
Friday, June 12
Lightweight TT Race: 3 laps
Senior TT Race: 6 laps
All times and dates are subject to confirmation and may be changed at very short notice.