‘I TRY MY HARDEST AND IF I WIN, I WIN’
‘Flying Kiwi’ Bruce Anstey turned 48 on April 24, the same age as Joey Dunlop during the late, great Irishman’s last TT in 2000. Just like Joey, Anstey has no intention of quitting racing, especially while he is still winning. “I am still enjoying it and I don’t want to have to go back to work,” Anstey jokes. “I am pretty sure that the bike and me are both still capable of winning and I am still hungry.”
Anstey has won 11 TT races, the last being the 2016 Zero race on the Mugen machine. He also holds the remarkable record of having stood on the podium at every TT since 2002 and just two years ago achieved a lifetime’s ambition by winning the Superbike TT. Only one accolade still eludes the veteran Kiwi who is now resident in Windsor. “It would be nice to win the Senior, to get the double,” Anstey smiles
His race boss, Clive Padgett, caused a sensation in the TT paddock at last year’s event when he unveiled a £150,000 RC213V-S Honda in race trim. After just two evenings of practice the Kiwi was lapping at 130mph and the howls of protest begun.
“The bike doesn’t break any of the rules or it wouldn’t be allowed to enter,” was Padgett’s simple retort but the begrudgers have fired Anstey up for 2017 success. “I would love to win on the RCV so we could see all the dummies being thrown out of the prams,” he laughs.
Anstey says the small and light V4 suits his style: “I can carry more corner speed on it than I can on the Fireblade and hopefully we have managed to get some more power this year.
“I reckon I could have got on the podium last year, maybe a third place, if I hadn’t had two big crashes at the North West and TT. They knackered me and I just wasn’t fit. If I had been riding the Fireblade instead of the RCV I don’t think I could have done six full laps, so that tells you something.”
Anstey was lucky not to have sustained serious injury after he crashed out of the Superbike race at the 2016 NW200 and again at Keppel Gate during TT practice. Does he worry about the dangers especially after his old foe, John Mcguinness’, recent crash?
“The old bones do take a bit longer to get over these things,” he jokes. “But I don’t worry about it. I know I could walk out and get run over on the road tomorrow. Crashing is all part of racing and you just have to accept that.”
Apart from a few motocross outings and some spins on a static bicycle, Anstey does no physical training during the winter months. His Padgett’s Honda squad also forgo the almost obligatory trips to Spain to test each February and March. “What works for me works for me and I’m never going to be able to set a bike up in Spain,” is Anstey’s only explanation.
Anstey has revelled in the welcome embrace he’s received from Clive Padgett and his Honda team since moving to the Batley-based outfit from Relentless Suzuki in 2011.
“It is a match made in heaven,” Anstey explains. “I’ve known Clive and the crew a long time. Clive says he goes racing with his mates and I see it the same way. He is good at listening to a rider and then giving you what you want.
“Clive knows his race bikes and racing inside
out, he even knows more about my TT lap times than I do. That gives you confidence because you know the bike is going to be 100%. At Castle Combe recently the team arrived with the bikes set up and we didn’t have to make any suspension changes at all.”
Those two sessions during the official Honda tests at the Wiltshire circuit in April were the first time Anstey had sat on a race bike in 2017 and he was immediately on the pace. But his form deserted him in the mixed weather conditions at the North West where he abandoned the new 2017 superstock spec Fireblade in favour of last year’s machine.
“I just couldn’t get on with the electronics,” he said. Anstey will also race a CBR600RR in both Supersport races at this year’s TT.
Are there any thoughts of quitting racing? Could this be his last TT? “I just take it a year at a time. Maybe Annie [his partner] will break my ankles and I’ll have to stop! Or maybe I will win the Senior and that will do it for me. But then again,” this perennial teenager adds after a pause.“i’d love to do Daytona. I’d love to go flat out around the banking the way I used to do when I sneaked into a velodrome in New Zealand in the middle of the night and blasted round on my RG250 before the police gave chase.”
Will Bruce be bringing his lucky beard this year?