Ten With: John McGuinness
We catch up with McPint to check on his fitness and his TT plans.
FB: Where are you fitness-wise?
JM: Percentage wise, I have no idea really – I was never the fittest guy in the world anyway! I was dying to get the big cage off my leg, but when I did I only managed three weeks before re-breaking it walking on the beach… I wasn’t even doing anything daft. Even the surgeon was gutted and said it doesn’t usually happen. When it re-broke I lost a bit of heart and had a couple of months feeling down in the dumps, but now it’s healed I’ve been able to get back out on the bikes and do some stuff. Thankfully, it feels alright – the actual leg doesn’t hurt, the problem was I broke my back in four places and all my ribs, which hurts more to be honest. I used to spend loads of time doing motocross and minibikes and stuff to keep bike-fit, so it’s bloody hard work now I’ve had so long off.
FB: Can you get back to the same level of fitness?
JM: I’m at a bit of a crossroads. I’m 46 now and I need to work harder to get to the same fitness, but it’s definitely possible and that’s the aim. I’ve got to lose a bit of timber as well, as extra weight on the legs doesn’t help. I don’t want to finish my racing career upside down on a golf course in Ireland, especially as I didn’t do anything wrong. A broken leg and broken back isn’t ideal, but I’m sure I can get back on it.
FB: Will you take on the TT again?
JM: The masterplan is the TT, but I really wouldn’t mind doing something a bit different, like the Ducati Tri-Options Cup with BSB too – British circuits are mega and I need a bit more direction, as Norton is great but I want to do more than just the Isle of Man TT. The ultimate goal is to line up there next year and be competitive again. I need to have it in my head that I can still win it. If I’m not lining up knowing there is a chance I can stand on the top of the podium, I don’t want to be there.
FB: What’s the draw for bike racing?
JM: I love riding bikes. It’s nothing to do with any glitz or glamour, I’ve got great sponsors, great people around me and there’s no better feeling. I get paid money to live an awesome lifestyle and there’s nothing better than being the star of the show. I still love getting the camper ready, going to the races, setting up and just cracking on. It’s a great life to lead.
FB: What do you make of the pace of the top lads at the 2018 TT?
JM: I’ve been studying it a lot and I think it’s a combination of things. The one that sticks out is the amount of testing they’ve done, going to Spain, doing some rounds of BSB and hitting the ground running in perfect conditions. They’re pushing on hard as well, the bikes are good, and they’ve got the tools to make it work. I’ve been in that position before – they’re just good, strong lads. Dean (Harrison) and Pete (Hickman) were special this year and the cream always comes to the top, no matter what.
FB: Were you sad to leave Honda?
JM: I was part of their journey for over 10 years and we had a lot of success with them… I pretty much either broke down or won. I’m disappointed with how it panned out, especially as I went through a fence because their bike accelerated at 42% throttle into a corner. No matter what experience you have, if that happens you’ve had it. I thought morally they’d have done more for me after everything, but that was that. I was just a tooth in their cog at the end of the day…
FB: What’s Norton like compared to Honda?
JM: Smaller, tighter and more enthusiastic to be honest. They’re a bunch of lads in a small firm taking on the world, who want the Hollywood story. I didn’t have many options to be honest – I was sitting there with a cage on my leg when Stuart (Garner, Norton’s CEO) gave us a call and it went from there – he convinced me pretty easily, especially with the potential of Josh (Brooks) and Davo (Johnson) the year before. I reckon we can get it on the box!