During practice week both John McGuinness and Clive Padgett said that there’s nothing certain at the Isle of Man TT, that in six laps races around the Mountain course, anything can happen.
Well that was certainly true yesterday. I can’t remember the last time all three pre-race favourites in a superbike Isle of Man TT fell by the wayside. John McGuinness and Guy Martin were sidelined by electrical problems (see Wednesday’s paper out June 4, 2008 for the full story behind this) and Ian Hutchinson went out with what he described as an ‘oil leak.’
You can’t help feeling gutted for all of them. McGuinness was distraught, not so much for himself but for Clive Padgett and the team.
I remember last year’s Isle of Man TT when he so wanted to give Clive the Supersport TT win and was gutted when he couldn’t quite pull that off. And it didn’t happen again today for reasons outside Padgett’s or his control.
Disappointment for Clive was John’s first comment when I caught up with him back at his motorhome after the race – and then for the fans who he said were robbed of a classic scrap between him and Guy Martin. John didn’t say it but I think he was really enjoying the challenge and had certainly had a good run from Glen Helen to Ramsey to peg the gap to split seconds.
Talking to Clive Padgett and his first comment was how gutted he was for John. There’s a level of mutual respect in the team that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
I was gutted for Guy Martin and the Hydrex Bike Animal Honda team too. Guy is so mad keen for the TT, so focused on winning his first TT win, and then he gets sidelined through no fault of his own, or his crew.
The Hydrex team has come such a long way in the past couple of seasons to the point where they are one of the best outfits in not just the Isle of Man TT paddock, but also the British Superbike paddock and they’re deserving some rewards for their efforts. Alas not this race.
Hutchinson’s retirement was a bit disappointment too. He looked out of it early in the week and on the back of a disappointing North West we’d almost written him off but then he produced that 126mph lap almost out of the blue on Thursday and suddenly everyone was talking about him again.
On the other hand I was delighted for the Relentless by TAS Suzuki boys – and for Cameron Donald, though I’ve got to admit I didn’t think he could take the race to McGuinness or Martin – at least not this early in the week.
Just before the off I was chewing the fat with Isle of Man TT programme editor Steve Burns and designer Al Perkin. It was one of those many ‘who’s your money on’ chats before any race and rather stupidly I said I didn’t think Donald would be a contender - simply because all week he’d been saying he needed more laps and his 128 fast one came after following McGuinness. Well I once predicted that Jeremy McWilliams would win the British Superbike title on a Stobart Honda so what do I know?
Obviously I overlooked typical Aussie grit because Donald was outstanding. Even in the race when the two Suzukis were clear I thought Anstey would assume the lead on the road but the only time he did, according to Bruce, was when Cameron had relaxed the pace a tad too much and Bruce wanted to give him the hurry-up.
And Anstey was awesome eh? After all the handling issues last year Bruce got himself a bike that barely needed the clickers adjusting and look what he did with it. If he can get his head down right from the start in the Senior it could be his turn on the top step. But then again….
Andwhat about Adrian Archibald? Old Archie certainly shut the critics right up with his third place. I remember being at the Isle of Man TT press launch in January (or was it February?). Whenever. Someone said they were surprised he was racing again this year.
They thought he should retire! Outrageous. Yeah, he’s had a right lean time for the past couple of years but he’s an Isle of Man TT winner on a superbike and proved yesterday he’s not forgotten how to race.
Aside from Donald’s sensational win, I think one of the best rides of the day has to be Gary Johnson’s on the 2005-model Uel Duncan Honda. The guy has next to bugger-all experience around the place, freely admits he didn’t do any research for his debut last year, and finishes fourth in a superbike Isle of Man TT race this year. Bloody amazing.
He’s obviously a natural and I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about him on the roads in the future.
That’s the great thing about this race. Fresh blood. Yes we all love to see McGuinness in action and Anstey, but Donald and Johnson have just injected a whole new breath of fresh air into the Isle of Man TT.
And it’s not just in the solos. What about Tim Reeves and Pat Farrance finishing third in the Sidecar race? Simply bloody marvellous.
Reeves got a lot of flack from his peers who reckoned just because he was a triple World Sidecar Champion on short circuits, it didn’t mean he could do well at the Isle of Man TT.
Well, Reeves worked his nuts off to proved them wrong and certainly shut them up today. And just like Donald and Johnson, he’s breathed new life into the Sidecars.
Wow, a year on from the Centenary, the Isle of Man TT is rocking.