‘ I couldn’t stay away’
Injured star defies the odds to turn up at the TT in time for opening race
The arrival of John Mcguinness on the Isle of Man last Thursday brought a ray of sunshine to a wet and dismal TT practice week.
The 23-times TT winner has been forced to sit out this year’s event after breaking his leg and back in a practice crash at the North West 200. But the injuries weren’t going to prevent the 45-year-old making his annual pilgrimage to the Island.
“I couldn’t keep away,” the Morecambe man smiled after receiving a standing ovation as he boarded the ferry at Heysham.
“I’ve been coming to the TT every year since 1982 and I wasn’t going to miss this one. I’m not here for the sympathy vote, I’m here because I really love the place.”
Being laid up by injury hasn’t prevented Mcguinness from keeping tabs on the opposition and he offered sympathy to everyone who has had to struggle through this year’s weather blighted TT practice sessions.
“I suppose if I am going to miss a TT this is probably the best one to miss but I think last year we were massively spoiled by the weather. That’s the TT for you. We have all been in this position before... it’s frustrating.”
In spite of the poor conditions, the man many people describe as Mr TT couldn’t hide his disappointment at not being able to race.
He said: “I’m just massively disappointed to not be competing.
“I love being here, I love the atmosphere, I love the people, I love the team. I did the 1997 TT, the 90th TT and then the 100th TT and I nearly did the 110th but it wasn’t to be this time. It hurts. It really, really hurts that I am not here racing, not loading the motorhome with the family, getting on the ferry, parking it up, getting everything set up, watching the place come alive, watching the atmosphere build up and getting out on the bike.”
In spite of his injuries and the torrid struggle he faced with the new 2017 spec Fireblade, Mcguinness says he is sad he will not be able to ride the Honda superbike at this year’s TT.
“I was super, super excited to ride the new Blade,” he explained.
“Testing has been difficult but we were going in the right direction. We were learning and learning. Those bikes were new to me, all the electronics, the blippers and the rest of the stuff were new to me so I was learning as well after all these years.”
Mcguinness has been monitoring the progress of his Honda Racing teammate, Guy Martin on the 2017 spec bike.
He added: “I’ve worked with teammates from Joey Dunlop to Guy Martin and many more. Guy is definitely the most different but there’s nothing wrong with that – he’s great. Guy needs to take this as a learning year. The bike was quite late arriving and he is still developing it as he goes around. He needs the track time but he has to see where he ends up.”
Mcguinness shares a joke with Bruce Anstey and Clive Padgett