We have only a few more weeks to wait before one of the world’s foremost sporting events gets underway. No, it’s not the FIFA World Cup, but something much, much closer to our hearts. On May 26th, the world-famous TT Races, which take place on the Isle of Man, will officially begin. This week they released the line-up of the world’s bravest and most skillful riders, who will return to Douglas for the most famous bike race on the planet—now 111 years old. More than 45,000 motorbike enthusiasts are expected to swarm to the Manx capital for this year’s Isle of Man TT race in what looks set to be another festival of high-octane action. With an average TT lap speed of 130 mph, the winner (whomever it would be) will need nerves of steel as the riders rip through the 37-mile circuit with a heady combination of ferocity, balance, aggression and control.
In total, 81 entries have been accepted, and we now know that, as the favorite, Michael Dunlop will lead an all-star roll call of the fastest road racers on the planet. Each rider will test his engines against other top-seeded competitors in the RL360 Superstock, PokerStars Senior and RST Superbike TT Races at this year’s festival, powered by Monster Energy.
Sadly, this year we are without John McGuinness (on the SG7 Norton) and Padgett Racing’s New Zealander Bruce Anstey, each due to physical ailments. We wish them well. Of the remain riders, all have lapped well over 128 mph this year, and among them, they can boast a total of 52 TT victories and 140 podium finishes throughout the whole field.
Local boy Conor Cummins will start from the number one spot, meaning that he’ll be the first rider down Glencrutchery Road. Cummins will be representing Padgett Racing on his Padgetts Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. He’ll be looking to recall the spirit of 2014—a year in which he placed twice. Fierce rivals Ian Hutchinson (Honda Racing) and Michael Dunlop (Tyco BMW) are set to do battle once more. There are only 20 seconds to split them, with 16-time winner Hutchinson at number four and 15-time winner Dunlop at number six. With Hutchinson suffering from lingering fitness questions, Dunlop is the favourite to fare better here and draw level on the all-time race winner’s leaderboard with a 16th win.
Further down the leading pack, these two would do well to keep eyes on Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW), who is now in his fifth year, Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki), who finished third in both the Superbike and Senior TT races last time out, and James Hillier (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki), who, were it not for an unfortunate refuelling issue, would have placed in last year’s Superbike Race. All three have recorded upwards of 132 mph previously.
The rest of the top ten is made up of Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing BMW), who will fancy his chances after having bagged a personal best lap of 131.709 mph last year, as well as a stunning Lightweight TT race victory, and Manxman Gary Johnson, who will be hoping to add to his single podium finish to date. Dan Kneen is also expected to do well on the Tyco BMW, while the BMW challenge is maintained by Australian David Johnson as part of the new Gulf BMW team. And, of course, there are another 71 riders making up the field in what is always one of the most eagerly-anticipated cross-country races on the motorcycling calendar—and it’s right around the corner. We can’t wait!