will miss this year’s TT af­ter mas­sive crash at North West

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - John Mcguin­ness By Stephen Dav­i­son ROADS RE­PORTER

‘I’ve al­ways wor­ried about the dan­gers... I’d like to fin­ish rac­ing in one piece’

John Mcguin­ness was se­ri­ously in­jured dur­ing prac­tice for last week’s North West 200 af­ter a hor­ri­fy­ing ac­ci­dent on Thurs­day. The 45-year-old TT le­gend crashed his 2017 Honda Rac­ing Fire­blade at Prim­rose cor­ner on the coast road sec­tion of the 8.9-mile North­ern Ir­ish cir­cuit dur­ing the fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion for the Su­per­bike race on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

The 23-times TT win­ner was thrown over a 10-foot high fence and landed on the golf course be­side the cir­cuit. He sus­tained a com­pound frac­ture to his right lower leg, four bro­ken ver­te­brae and three bro­ken ribs. Doc­tors from the MCUI Med­i­cal team were on the scene within a few min­utes of the in­ci­dent and Mcguin­ness was taken to the Royal Vic­to­ria Hos­pi­tal in Belfast by am­bu­lance.

“While in theatre on Thurs­day night it was not pos­si­ble to plate John’s leg as ini­tially hoped due to the ex­tent of the in­jury, and an ex­ter­nal fix­a­tor will be fit­ted,” a Honda state­ment said, con­tin­u­ing: “In ad­di­tion, John will wear a cast for up to six weeks in treat­ment for the ver­te­brae.”

Honda have con­firmed that Mcguin­ness in­formed the team the power did not shut off as he ap­proached the 100mph-plus cor­ner, and as a re­sult the squad are per­form­ing “a de­tailed anal­y­sis of the bike and ECU data.”

With the in­ves­ti­ga­tion on­go­ing, Honda with­drew their Su­per­bike and Superstock ma­chines from the NW200 last Fri­day evening (see p6), leav­ing Mcguin­ness’ team-mate, Guy Martin to race Wil­son Craig’s CBR600RR in Satur­day’s Su­per­sport race.

Whether the Honda team take sim­i­lar ac­tion and with­draw from the TT, which be­gins on May 27, re­mains to be seen – but the one cer­tainty is that Mcguin­ness will not be com­pet­ing on the is­land this year.

Un­re­alised po­ten­tial

2017 was a year that be­gan with so much promise for Mcguin­ness. It had been hoped the ar­rival of the new and long-awaited Fire­blade, and the sur­prise ad­di­tion to the Honda Rac­ing squad of Guy Martin, would pro­vide a boost for the Louth-based squad af­ter a dis­mal 2016.

Mcguin­ness had reached the limit of the old Blade when he set a new TT lap record of 132.701mph in the 2015 Se­nior race. The age­ing ma­chine was no match for the BMW S1000RRS rid­den Michael Dun­lop and Ian Hutchin­son, who lapped at over 133mph last June.

Mcguin­ness was hold­ing out hope that the new Fire­blade, with its ex­tra power and state-of-the-art elec­tronic aids, would help him to close the gap. In­stead the team have found it dif­fi­cult to make the bike work with Honda’s race kit ig­ni­tion sys­tem and both Mcguin­ness and Martin have


strug­gled to find a set-up they’re happy with on the new ma­chine.

“I am strug­gling to find con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween me, the bike and the tyres. I’m not rac­ing yet, I am just rid­ing round,” said Martin af­ter the re­cent Cook­stown 100.

Don’t write me off

Look­ing for­ward with his trade­mark op­ti­mism, Mcguin­ness said he was in­tent on mak­ing a strong chal­lenge at this year’s TT against the young guns, while ac­knowl­edg­ing the view held by some that his best days are be­hind him.

“I un­der­stand how a lot of peo­ple see things, and I wouldn’t dis­agree with them, but Joey was writ­ten off and he came back and won three in a week,” said the 45-year-old as he pre­pared his hel­mets and vi­sors for the day ahead. “It’s a long old race and they are all beat­able, but if I get beat I will take it on the chin.”

He was full of praise for all the work the Honda team have been do­ing with the new Fire­blade and said he wasn’t pan­ick­ing about it’s per­for­mance. Pulling on his leathers for the start of the fate­ful prac­tice ses­sion he talked about pre-race nerves.

“I’ve al­ways wor­ried about the dan­gers. It hasn’t got any­thing to do with get­ting older, it is al­ways there.” He men­tioned a tra­di­tion at the North West 200 rider’s brief­ing: “They of­fer you a Bi­ble and you al­ways take it be­cause you think if you don’t, some­thing bad will hap­pen.”

As he was about to leave, he turned and made a dec­la­ra­tion that is typ­i­cal of his ap­proach to life and to rac­ing: “I’m still John Mcguin­ness, still 21 in my head, still driven, still fo­cused, still go­ing al­right,” he smiled.

“I’d like to fin­ish rac­ing in one piece with a big smile on my face. The ic­ing on the cake would be to win one more Se­nior TT be­cause noone has ever won more than seven.”

It is that re­solve the More­cambe man will now have to call on as he be­gins the bat­tle back from the se­ri­ous in­juries he sus­tained just an hour later.

Mcguin­ness launched off the kerb, cleared the fence and landed on the golf course

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