MCGUINNESS BADLY HURT
will miss this year’s TT after massive crash at North West
‘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.
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
JOHN MCGUINNESS ON THURSDAY
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