John McGuinness's lap of the TT

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John McGuinnes took his 21st victory at the Isle of Man TT today with victory in the TT Zero race.

Here, the man known as the Morecambe Missle givies us an insight into how he sees the 37-and-a-bit mile course. It’s bonkers enough just reading it, so strap in!


“This is when your nerves are gone. It’s a relief to get going because your nerves disappear. Before the race I’m sh*tting myself, so I try and spend some time with the family and the kids. It’s just the uniqueness of the start: every other race in the world you get a warm-up lap, so you get a feel for how the bike’s going to react. At the TT you don’t get that, so you don’t know what the bike’s going to do.”


“Just terrifying, there’s no other way of putting it. The bike is bucking and weaving, so you’ve got to really boss it down here; well, boss it to a certain degree, but also let it do what it’s got to do, otherwise you tire yourself out. I’ve had a few moments here where my feet have been off the ’pegs and it’s a bit of a terrifying thing, really. Everyone says they do it flat out, but you don’t do it flat out, no chance.”


“I’m pinned in top, though the engine feels a bit lazy coming up the hill. I’m hanging off the rear brake over the leap like crazy. I use a thumb-operated rear brake because it’s so hard to move your foot around at high speeds because the wind is pushing your feet back, and moving your foot forward and back tires you out. On the superstocker I get a tired leg trying to keep the front down, because you aren’t allowed a thumb brake.”


“It takes some stopping into here – it’s so steep going down. I can hear the back skittering, even with the slipper clutch. Usually I start panicking a bit. I come down through the gearbox pretty hard because I’m desperate to get it stopped.”


“Going out of Union Mills I start to relax. I always think the left out of Union Mills is a super, super important corner. You go into the preceding right a little slower, because if you scratch your nuts off there, you’re going to lose time through the left and that will cost you all the way up the next hill.”


“I talk to myself here. I always ask DJ [his friend David Jefferies, who died here in 2003] to look after me. Every single lap I’ve done, every bike, every practice session, I say a prayer. It’s my own way of relaxing into it.”


“Fantastic! On the exit the big bike spins real hard coming out, so you have to do the MotoGP thing: get a wheelie, pull the ’bars and steer it a bit on the back wheel. A few years ago after Greeba I hit a pheasant in practice. Fu*kin’ hell – it smashed the clutch lever, the bodywork, the air scoop, the clocks, the lot. It felt like someone had given me a smack.”


“You’ve got to make a strong exit from Greeba Bridge because you can make a pass on the next straight. If you catch someone through the next corners you can lose a few seconds.”


“I don’t like Laurel Bank –  it seems like you always miss the apex. You’re looking and thinking, I want to be here and you’re over there every time. Then when you accelerate 
out, you’re grabbing big handfuls 
of throttle and the big bike spins 
like mad.”


“This is a super-important corner, most of all on a 600. If you get out of it good you can pass someone so fast going onto Cronk-y-Voddy straight that they come and tell you your bike’s so fast. But it’s nothing to do with that – your work was all done at Sarah’s.”


“The corner is 160, maybe 170 miles an hour and it’s not massively important; I just like it. If you spoke to a layman and said, right, I’m in sixth gear there, he’d think you were taking the piss, but honestly, it’s that quick. You get hooked right into the hedge and then the road opens up for you. Every time I go through here I get a rush, I really do.”


“Every corner has its little kinks and quirks. I don’t dread any of them but I don’t like this double left. It’s off-camber and sucks you in, so you’ve got to be patient: brake a bit earlier, have your bike settled
 and run it in. You don’t want to be 
trail braking it in.”


“Kirk Michael is unique, it just happens so quick. You’re through it in a breath and you’re onto your next bit. You work hard, using the ’pegs, wrestling it through.”


“I like Rhencullen but I’m not that great over the crest. Some riders are really spectacular over there – both wheels off the ground – but it doesn’t really work for me. After Rhencullen is where you let the bike run. It’s all fifth and sixth gear, so it’s really hard to get through some of those bits and there’s a kerb that shoots out at you.”


“This is where you let the bike run the full width of the road. A lot of people try to pick the bike up, but that just kills the revs, especially on the little bikes, so you’re better off letting the bike run wide and bringing it up slowly.”


“I’m probably as fast as anyone over the Ballacrye jump, but I don’t enjoy it. When you land, the bike’s not pulling so strong, so you think ‘if I could just go a bit quicker around the left before it…’ So next time you’re telling yourself to do it but it doesn’t happen. You’ve got time to think about it, so you’re like oh yeah, oh yeah, then [he mimes feathering the throttle]… nooo! Bray Hill is just the same.”


“There’s a speed trap there so I usually shut off for it. It makes you look better because it looks like your bike’s a lot slower than the others!”


“This is probably the bumpiest part of the course but I quite enjoy it, I like the challenge. I had one of the biggest scares of my TT career here, I’ll never forget it. I had this huge tank-slapper on a Yamaha R6 in 2005 and I’ve no idea why. It snapped the steering damper and broke the bodywork. It went bang-bang-bang-bang on the stops and I was a total passenger. I fu*king shat myself. You get weaves and headshakes, but that was the only lock-to-lock tank-slapper I’ve had. Awful, absolutely terrifying. I’ve tried to find a smooth line around here but there isn’t one. It’s just madness. Like motocross, you’re stood on the ’pegs all the way through to Ramsey.”


“It’s rough as arseholes, but I don’t mind that, you know where you are; it’s got camber. You come out of there and it’s just spinning all the way up the hill, then you stab the brakes and the back-end tends to pick up and you can’t get it settled before Whitegates.”


“This left doesn’t look that rough but it’s horrible. Every time I go round it I always feel like I’m going to tuck the front. I don’t know why because looking at it closely it looks quite smooth. I think there are some bumps in the track that make the bike’s back-end pick up, then you chuck it in and you get this dead, vague feeling through the front tyre. No disrespect, but the lad who finishes 30th is going to get round here as fast as I am.”


“The Mountain is good, but it took me a long time to learn. You think, I’ll get the Mountain nailed pretty quick, you don’t think about it too much because you’re thinking about all the bits with walls and stuff. But up the Mountain there’s no definition and it doesn’t give you a sense of speed. Don’t go rushing in or you you’ll end up in trouble.”


“It’s one of those lefts where you have to get the right-hander before it right. You’ve got to be patient, it’s so easy to rush in on the right, carry tons of speed then, whooah, you arrive at the left. So I’m right in the gutter on the right, then peel in late. But it’s hard because the bike doesn’t want to be where you want it to be.”


“Windy’s nice. You can really rail it in there, nice and smooth and then it’s a great run down through the 33rd towards the Creg and then you’re on your way home.”