IT’S TIME TO WIN THE SENIOR
Bruce Anstey has just one TT victory missing from his flawless road racing CV and he reckons 2016 is the year he’ll clinch his maiden Senior win
Flying Kiwi, Bruce Anstey is crystal clear about his 2016 TT ambitions. “I will be looking for a Senior win and then that will be the full set,” he smiles.
The veteran racer will be 47 in April but having won his first six-lap big bike TT on the Valvoline Padgett’s Honda in last year’s Superbike race, he has no intention of taking it any easier this year.
“My bike will be better than ever because Clive Padgett has managed to squeeze a bit more power out of the engine so I think it will be a match for the BMWS and Kawasakis,” he says confidently.
Anstey joined Padgett’s Valvolinebacked team in 2011 after winning seven TTS, including five 1000cc stocker races in a row, with the Northern Ireland-based TAS Suzuki squad. Some thought the 40-something’s best days were already behind him but the switch to Honda gave Anstey a new lease of life and he has added three more Island wins to his tally, including that famous victory last year. It has also enabled him to retain an even more remarkable record.
Since 2000 Anstey has finished on the podium at every North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster Grand Prix meeting. Can he make it sweet 16 in 2016?
“I will be giving it a try,” is as committal as the laidback Kiwi gets but he does admit that retaining this incredible record is a motivator.
“I do think about it now and if I don’t get on the podium in the first or second race the pressure is on a bit, so it makes me go faster,” he laughs.
Anstey’s speed and consistency in maintaining this stunning statistic is something that impresses his rivals.
“If you look at the North West 200 alone and all the things that can happen at that race, to be able to finish in the top three every year for so long is just unbelievable,” says Ian Hutchinson.
William Dunlop’s respect is even more emphatic: “I think that is a more amazing record than any of the TT victory records.”
Typically, Anstey takes it all in his stride. Beyond riding his motocross bike every week during the winter months and a couple of early season runs on the Padgett’s Hondas “to check that everything is OK”, his race preparation is largely non existent. There are no gym sessions, no special diets or pep talks with motivational trainers; Bruce just turns up on the day and does the business.
“I think we are doing one of the BSB tests at the start of the season and I am going to the first round at Silverstone but I’ll just be riding around,” he says.
Nor does the enigmatic star spend much time hanging around the workshop trying to gel with the team.
“John Mcguinness still comes to our staff Christmas dinners and he doesn’t even ride for the team any more,” Padgett laughs.
“Bruce has never been to a single party although we know he is happy we are all enjoying ourselves because he sent us a Happy Christmas text message at 3am last year! Yes, he is a bit of a recluse but I couldn’t care less. As long as he turns up on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday of TT race week I am happy.”
Anstey’s first serious gallop of the year will be at the North West 200 in May.
“The North West is a good place to see how fast your bike is,” he explains.
“Because you are flat-out for so long there in top gear on the long straights, you can make sure your engines are strong enough. And it gets your brain up to speed with all that high speed stuff going on.”