Isle of Wight TT: New road racing event set for October 2021
Plans to run an all-new International road race on the Isle of Wight have been revealed. The event, named Diamond Races, is scheduled to debut in October 2021 and will run over a 12.8-mile lap with speeds predicted to nudge 210mph on the spectacular and wide open Military Road section of the circuit.
An exact date is yet to be confirmed, but the plan is for the four-day event to take place immediately after the final round of the British Superbike championship, which traditionally runs at Brands Hatch in mid-October.
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The schedule is likely to replicate the North West 200 with practice and qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday, Friday will be the rest day with racing on Saturday. There will initially be three classes: Superbike (run to Superstock spec), Supersport and Lightweight with Sidecars completing demonstration laps.
The event is the brainchild of Isle of Wight residents Paul Stamford and former British Touring car racer James Cahill and has the full backing of the Isle of Wight Council along with the ACU.
Dave Stewart, Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Partnerships, said: "We have been working behind the scenes for quite some time now with event specialists looking into the feasibility of such a race, and we are very excited that we can announce another first for the Isle of Wight."
In addition to local input, the Diamond Races team is made up of motorcycling and road racing experts including Gary Thompson (Isle of Man TT Clerk of the Course) Neil Tuxworth (Former TT racer and Honda Racing manager for 28 years), Steve Plater (former British champion and TT race winner) and James Hillier (TT winner and current racer). The management team also includes logistics experts and digital media specialists.
With just 15 months before the inaugural staging there is still a huge amount of work to be completed with an emphasis on rider safety and road safety for the island which is a very popular destination for motorcyclists, cyclists and general holidaymakers.
"The road surface on the course is excellent and we have fantastic support from the Highways Agency," explained Clerk of the course Gary Thompson.
"Steve Plater and Matt Neal (former British Touring car racer and passionate motorcyclist) have been doing a lot of laps over the last five months so I have now produced a comprehensive risk assessment. There are some changes to be made to maximise safety and we’ll have line of sight marshalling around the entire lap.
"It’s a 12.8-mile course, but at this stage we don’t know an exact lap time, but we think it will be around eight minutes. It’s a time trial event so a rider will go every 10 seconds and we’re aiming for between 30 and 36 riders as we need time for the grid to be clear by the time the first rider comes round again."
Neil Tuxworth, whose role is focusing on safety of the new course, is a veteran of the Isle of Man TT and can see the strengths of the new event. He said: "Creating another road race is important because over the years we’ve seen a lot of races disappear. The Isle of Wight has lots of facilities, more than the IoM in terms of accommodation, and is easier to get to. It also gets good weather."
With the concept fully approved by local council, planning continues to finalise the exact event format and spectator facilities. The project which has an estimated budget of over £2m will also be giving the opportunity for investors to come onboard soon.
Diamond Races in numbers:
- 12.8 length of lap in miles
- 3 classes: Superbike, Supersport, Lightweight
- 2500 centre white lines that will be treated
- 1050 cat’s eyes to be removed
- 177 manhole covers treated with anti-slip
- 44,000 hotel and B&B beds on the Isle of Wight
'It has a mix of everything' - Michael Guy, Sports Editor
In a landscape where road racing is in decline with the cancellation of the Ulster GP along with other Irish road races – an all-new International road race on the calendar is a genuine surprise.
Riding the course at legal speeds it's clear to see it has a mix of everything from technical relatively narrow back roads, mini roundabouts where it skirts the edge of the three villages – Chale, Shorwell and Brighstone – through to the stunning, wide-open, undulating Military Road which is flanked by the English channel.
Expect 200mph plus, crossed up wheelies and jumps on what will be a truly spectacular section of the track.
While it’s clearly an exciting proposition, launching a new road race feels out of kilter with the health and safety obsessed world we all live in. And while the organisers have worked with all of the relevant council representatives throughout and have gained approval, don’t rule out some level of opposition now that the event has been officially announced to the public.
But the team working on the project reads like a wish list of people you’d want involved in a new event, which in turn brings huge credibility to it.
And while there will still be hurdles to overcome in terms of financing, the Isle of Wight is driven by tourism and has the proven infrastructure and long-standing history of staging big events including the Isle of Wight music festival and Cowes Week sailing regatta. All of which will be massively in their favour.
And with multiple ferry companies operating on three different routes it will certainly be easy to get to and has the potential to attract visitors and day trippers from the densely populated south of England.