‘ I couldn’t stay away’

In­jured star de­fies the odds to turn up at the TT in time for open­ing race

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - By Stephen Dav­i­son ROADS RAC­ING RE­PORTER

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

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