It’s fair to say that we’ve missed road racing over the past few years. There’s something seriously special about the buzz of superbikes on the limit just inches from front doors as they hammer through villages. And if you’re lucky enough to make the pilgrimage over to the Isle of Man this year, here are some of the best places to watch from:
We just had to start with one of the most iconic locations on the Island. Although this one isn’t free to watch at, it’s the ideal spot to see a whole host of action, while being right in the thick of it all. Here you’ll be able to see the new generation of score boards, all the pit stops, the pre-race prep and even the emotion from the podium after the race. There’s parking nearby, and as you’re near the paddock there’s a ton of stalls for food, drinks and even some merchandise if you want to show your support. It’s always a great atmosphere as well.
St Ninian’s Crossroads/Bray Hill
It may only be just down the road from the Grandstand, but everyone needs to watch at least one session from here. At the top is St Ninian’s Crossroads which is arguably the most incredible to place to watch a superbike in the world; knocking on the door of 190mph, the bikes will be coming through on the back wheel, nigh on flat out as they tick off another lap. Further down the road you’ll find yourself watching at Bray Hill, which is a sizeable dip at the bottom of the hill, where the top guys will be coming through and bottoming out at about 180mph. If you can nab a good spot on the bottom (it gets busy, so get there early), you’ll even be able to see the riders heading up and over Ago’s leap on the exit. It’s the first stretch of road and in Douglas, both of which mean that it’s always fairly packed. As it’s a well-known location it also means that there’s places to get grub and even the odd port-a-loo for your convenience.
Union Mills is a special place to watch from to appreciate the intricacies of the TT course, as from a rider’s point of view, the section is complex, yet incredibly fast. It’s absolutely vital to get it right for a quick lap so you’ll see everyone pushing hard through here, and it’s got some proper facilities, so you can spend the whole evening there as well, not least because there’s a pub with a great beer garden too.
This one is Peter Hickman’s favourite place for people to watch at so he can scare them – and we aren’t surprised. Just after Greeba Bridge, Gorse Lea is a great place to spectate on from the outside of the track, as especially on the big bikes the riders will getting as close to the outside wall as physically possible. It’s a quick corner that’s pretty bumpy, and you can get incredible close to the action. There isn’t much by way of amenities though, unless you can find a garden to perch in!
Okay, so it’s one of the slower sections of the TT course, but what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in excitement. Ballaugh Bridge has got to be one of the most photographed chunks of tarmac and for good reason, as the riders will come in hard on the anchors, firing over the bridge and then blasting off through the village. The viewing points here are fairly limited for safety, but there are a few great spots either side of the junction, and also a pub on the inside which serves food and drink all day long.
This whole section here is incredible, although it’s not quite as accessible or well-equipped for spectating as some of the other spots. Just before the Mountain section, the Waterworks is an incredibly fast, blind, double right hander which is a real sight to behold – even though you’ll have to do some serious walking to get anywhere near. If you keep on going though, you’ll find yourself at Tower Bends which offers another savagely fast set of turns between stone walls - although to get there you’ll have to park up at the Gooseneck, or sneak through from the back of Ramsay. If that isn’t your style, the Gooseneck is better equipped for spectating, with toilets and refreshments on hand.
Creg Ny Baa
If you’re talking places to watch at the Isle of Man, it wouldn’t be a complete list without a visit to the iconic Creg, would it? It’s one of the most famous viewing points of the 37.73 mile circuit, with a great view of the riders as they pass Kate’s Cottage and make the final descent out of the Mountain section. The corner itself is something of a short circuit style bend with its fire in, fire out right-angled layout – so expect to see the riders getting the back end a bit loose as they push hard here in preparation for the final run back to the Grandstand. There’s a couple of little grandstands here, some decent parking and a pub full of TT memorabilia… what more could you want?
One of the underrated places to watch the racing from has to be Hillberry – a brutally fast and challenging section towards the end of the lap that begs the riders to get as close to the grass banks as physically possible. There are grandstands here, a load of decent parking and the odd catering van and portaloo as well, so you can sit your bum down all day and enjoy.
Of course, if you’re not going to the TT you can enjoy the races from home. As well as the highlights package traditionally shown nightly on ITV4, this year’s event will also be able to be followed live for the very first time – with full live coverage of all races through a new digital channel, called TT+, which utilises an experienced presentation team, 20 live cameras, two kerb mounted cameras and two helicopter mounted cameras to follow the bikes around the 37.73 mile course.
Photos: Honda Racing