Undoubtedly the ultimate in motorcycle road races, practice for the TT takes place from Sunday June 29, with race week running from Saturday June 4 through to Friday June 10.
With two years off, it’s fair to say that this is one of the most eagerly anticipated TTs in recent years. Here are the five things we’re most looking forward to…
Harrison v Hickman battle resumes
Two giants of the roads emerged at TT 2018.
Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison have moved the game on in recent years. ‘Hicky’ took his first Senior TT, the week ending blue riband event, from Harrison in 2018 – setting a new lap record of a staggering 135.452mph in the process on his BMW. Harrison is the current Senior champion, albeit after Hickman was slowed by some mechanical gremlins.
All eyes will be on the duo to see if they can raise the bar even higher. Can one of them go through the card and win all their races? Will the lap record be broken yet again? Can someone raise their game and stop them? The absence of TT racing for two years has meant that there’s little indication of who could challenge the established guard, although Honda’s Davey Todd looks the most likely of the contenders.
Glenn Irwin leads the newcomers
With 37.73 miles of asphalt to learn, the TT is the ultimate challenge for any rider. Turning up and winning at the first attempt simply doesn’t happen but, even so, there’s always a buzz in the air when a high profile rider dons the orange novice bib and takes to the course for the first time.
This year’s highest profile newcomer is Honda’s British Superbike team leader Glenn Irwin. He joins the likes of Hickman, Josh Brookes and Steve Plater in the ranks of BSB race winners taking on the TT.
Like all newcomers, Glenn has been doing his homework since announcing he would take on the Island. He’s from one of Northern Ireland’s most famous racing dynasties and knows as much as anyone else the dangers of the TT.
He’s already said that his long term ambition is to win the Senior but he’s being modest and realistic in his targets for 2022. He knows that this year (and 2023) is for learning but, despite that, there will be plenty of eyes on him and a desire to see how his fastest lap stacks up against the 129.104mph Hickman clocked in his rookie TT year.
McGuinness and the old stagers
There’s no substitute for experience at the TT, and there’s certainly plenty of that lining up at TT ‘22.
The entry list includes former winners Michael Rutter, Michael Dunlop, Lee Johnston and Ian Hutchinson, as well as the legendary 23-time winner John McGuinness (pictured), who returns to Honda for 2022.
The recently turned 50-year-old is second only to Joey Dunlop in the all-time win list and wears the number one plate throughout the event, meaning that he will be first away in all the races. He’ll also be starting his 100th TT this year and although he won’t be fancied to add to his 23 wins, there will be plenty of smiles if the self-proclaimed Brickie from Morecambe can stand on a TT podium again.
Live TV debuts
We’re all used to watching sport live on TV, but this year will be the first time the Isle of Man TT races can be seen as it happens by viewers around the world.
Up to now, the TT has been broadcast through very good, tightly edited, highlights packages on ITV4 and some informative documentaries. The live coverage, which will cost £14.99 for the entire event, will stream through the official TT races website, represents a massive logistical challenge for the production team.
There are some big names on the presentation and commentary teams, and it will be interesting to see how a near two hour time trial works as a broadcast. We’re super excited about this and, if it’s a winner, it has the potential to open up the races to a whole new audience.
The festival returns
As much as the TT is about the racing, it’s a massive festival with plenty of partying and other cool stuff happening across the island throughout the fortnight.
It’s a massive tourist attraction for the island and there are a load of activities to be enjoyed from chilled out classic bike meets, high profile comedy and music gigs and the legendary Mad Sunday, when fans can ride the Mountain Course exactly as the racers do.
The new Monster Energy Fan Park is open from 9am to 11pm every day and has chat shows, live music and competitions throughout the event, while the Carole Nash sponsored Bushy’s TT Village is an iconic fixture on the Douglas Prominade and well worth a visit if you fancy some classic rock music with the local ale.
Photo: Honda Racing