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Top five… things to look out for at the 2024 Isle of Man TT races

TT Fan Park

The Isle of Man TT Races are unique. The bravest racers on the planet race around 37.73 miles of closed public roads at average speeds of over 130mph, for races which cover almost three times the distance of a MotoGP.

It’s an event which also creates a real carnival atmosphere, with fans travelling from all over the world to tick off this must see event from their personal bucket lists. Even if you never saw a competitor on the racetrack (which you should, of course) the island is alive with motorcycles and motorcyclists having the most amazing time, and you will too. We love it and can’t wait to board that ferry from Liverpool. As always, there are plenty of narratives and big stories going into the TT. Some more will emerge throughout TT fortnight, but these are the five things we’re looking out for in this year’s races…

Can Dunlop do it?

The big story last year was Michael Dunlop, fuelled by his terrific start to TT 2023.

The 35-year-old road racing maverick won four of the first five solo TTs last year, to take himself onto 25 career wins on the island – moving him to within one of his uncle Joey’s record of 26 TT wins. Dunlop was in scintillating form, breaking the 130mph barrier for the first time on a supersport machine, as well as setting a new lap record in the Carole Nash Supertwin TT.

Unfortunately for Michael, the combination of some bad luck (breaking down in the second supertwin outing) and a resurgence from Peter Hickman in the second part of race week meant he was unable to equal (or even surpass) his uncle.

So now the expectation moves to 2024, where he’ll be lining up in all eight solo TTs. We’d fully expect him and his Paton to be the combination to beat in the supertwins, although the highly tuned Italian machine is notoriously unreliable. He’s also switched from the well proven Yamaha R6 in supersport, one of his specialist classes, to the next generation Triumph Street Triple 765RS, while he’ll race Honda Fireblades in the 1000cc superstock and superbike classes.

Can he do it? Possibly, but with a host of very fast competitors it certainly won’t be easy.

 

michael-dunlop

 

How far can the limits go?

TT 2023 was fast – record breaking fast. A combination of great weather, plenty of track time and a road surface in excellent condition saw lap speeds go into territory previously unthought of.

As we already mentioned, Dunlop broke the supersport lap record – averaging 130.403mph on a 600cc Yamaha R6, while Hickman set the fastest ever lap of the TT course – averaging 136.358mph on his superstock specification BMW M 1000 RR. In theory he should be able to go even faster on a superbike, with its extra power, upgraded chassis and more sophisticated electronics.

With the competition hotter than ever, can we see the average speeds go even higher in 2024?

Can Honda get back on top?

Despite Dunlop enjoying plenty of success on a Fireblade last year, it’s been a long time since the official factory Honda team has won at the TT.

John McGuinness’ dramatic win in the 2015 Senior TT was both the rider and the team’s last success on the island, but hopes are high for a return to the top step with 2019 Senior winner Dean Harrison signing on for this year’s event.

Harrison has performed heroics on a Kawasaki in recent years and he’s considered, along with Dunlop and Hickman, to be one of the sport’s ‘big three’. If anyone’s going to break their dominance, Harrison is likely to be the man. He’s also backed up by namesake and local prospect Nathan Harrison in the three-rider team, which is completed by veteran McGuinness. The hugely popular 52-year-old is, by his own admission, unlikely to match the top runners on outright pace, however the wily Lancastrian finished on the podium in the recent North West 200 – showing he’s still got pace and is capable of picking up the pieces should misfortune befall the more fancied runners.

You can hear our interview with Dean on our TT preview video.

 

Davey Todd and the coming men

It takes years for even the best racers to learn the infamous TT course, and to be able to post the kind of lap times needed to challenge the legends of the sport.

This year’s coming men include former British superbike champion Josh Brookes, fan favourite Dominic Herbertson, supertwin podium finisher Jamie Coward and Davey Todd, who has enjoyed a tremendous start to the season on the roads and short circuits.

The Teesider won three races in a man of the meeting performance at the recent North West 200, in addition to setting the early pace in the National Superstock 1000 championship.

Todd had a disappointing 2023 season, with a few health issues at the TT, but this year he looks to have all the tools at his disposal. He’s competing in all eight solo classes, racing for Dafabet Kawasaki in the twins races and for the highly experienced TAS Racing squad in the bigger bike classes. He’ll be running BMW equipment in the 1000cc races, while he’ll also debut the team’s Ducati Panigale V2 in the supersport classes.

Built to the new ‘next generation’ supersport regulations, the V-twin won two of the three races Todd entered at the North West (another rider caused him to crash in the other outing) and we look forward to seeing how the combination goes on the island. We certainly won’t be surprised to see it on the podium.

 

davey todd bmw

 

Sidecar excitement

The sidecar class has been something of a Birchall brothers benefit in recent years, with the Nottinghamshire siblings having won the last 11 TTs in a row, but that will change in 2024 following the retirement of passenger Tom.

Driver Ben continues with Frenchman Kevin Rosseau joining him in the chair, and he faces a real threat from the Peter Founds/Jevan Walmsley pairing (pictured), who pushed them all the way in 2023. Both outfits broke through the 120mph average lap during TT ’23, with the Birchalls setting a new lap record of 120.645mph.

Manx brothers Ryan and Callum Crowe scored a podium in the second sidecar TT last year and are due a breakthrough campaign, while the biggest news is the TT debut of the world championship pairing of Todd Ellis and Emmanuelle Clément. The Anglo/French pairing won’t be expected to win on their first visit to the island, but they’re a class act who will be looking to set the foundations for the future.

One other variable to throw into the sidecar class is a change of tyre supplier, with Avon pulling out and American company Hoosier Tires, best known for making drag racing rubber coming in with a new product.

Practice week for the 2024 Isle of Man TT Races on Monday 27 May, with race week running from Saturday 1 to Saturday 8 June.

 

side-car

 

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