2009 race winners (Left to right) Michael Dunlop (Supersport 2), Ian Hutchinson (Supersport 1 & Superstock), Steve Plater (Senior and overall champion), Dave Molyneux (Sidecar 1), John McGuinness (Superbike), Rob Barber (TTXGP).
With less than 75 days to go before the first practice session for the 2010 Isle of Man TT Races, thoughts are already turning towards the opening Superbike race on Saturday 5th June and with the entry list ammassed for this years event it’s clear we’re all in for another set of mouth-watering, highly competitive set of races, both on two wheels and three.
All the stars of 2009 are returning, more high calibre newcomers making their TT debut and a number of teams also making their Island bow ensuring that the strength in depth is as strong as ever. It’s no exaggeration to say there are at least ten potential race winners in each solo class, all capable of lapping at the same pace, a sidecar grid again the best in the world whilst this year’s solo entry sees no less than 11 former winners and 50 riders who have already lapped in excess of 120mph!
Heading the entry once more is the reigning King of the Mountain, John McGuinness and with 15 wins now to his name, the Morecambe rider has deservedly earned his status as a TT legend. As we have now become accustomed to, the now 37-year old will line up at number 2 in all of the five solo races, riding for HM Plant Honda in the two Superbike races and Padgetts for the Supersport and Royal London 360 Superstock Races. The outright lap record holder is still very much the man to beat and the one the rest of the field use as the benchmark for success.
Alongside McGuinness at HM Plant Honda once more is last year’s Senior Race winner Steve Plater and he too continues with the same number as 2009, setting off at number 7. It’s easy to forget that it was as recently as 2007 that the Lincolnshire rider made his TT debut but the double winner has certainly proved that he’s now one of the best around the Mountain Course. The reigning British Supersport Champion will be in HM Plant colours for all bar the Supersport Races where he’ll also be on board a Padgetts machine.
The Yorkshire motorcycle dealers will again be supporting Ian Hutchinson, a double winner in 2009 and ten times podium finisher in total. ‘Hutchy’ heads into the event well capable of winning any race from his number 4 starting position as does Guy Martin who continues at number 8. Now riding for Wilson Craig Racing but continuing with Honda machinery, could 2010 finally be the year the enigmatic 28-year old opens his account?
Leading the field away at number 1 will be Kiwi Bruce Anstey, the seven-times winner keen to put a disappointing 2009 season behind him whilst the same can also be said of team-mate Cameron Donald. The Australian, who stays at number 6 for 2010, lapped at more than 131mph in practice last year but 24 hours later his TT was over so there’s plenty of unfinished business there too. Two more Suzuki riders in with a great chance of glory are Gary Johnson (AIM Racing) and Adrian Archibald (AMA Racing), the duo lining up at number 11 and 9 respectively.
Kawasaki have strong representation at TT2010 with Conor Cummins, at number 10, arguably their best chance of success on the McAdoo Racing machines but Ryan Farquhar (no12) and Ian Lougher (no3) can never be ruled out whilst James Hillier (no19) comes into his third year at the TT and is sure to be even closer to the front.
Michael Rutter (no15) will ensure the Italian’s are well represented with his British Superbike Championship Ducati and although he recently split from the JMF/Millsport Yamaha team, Keith Amor is scheduled to go off at number 5 in all five races and, as providing he gets his plans finalised, he’s yet another rider who can grace the podium.
Meanwhile, the Dunlop brothers both enjoyed a highly successful TT in 2009 with Michael, of course, claiming a superb victory in the second Supersport Race and, with strong machinery in all classes, he’s going to be there or thereabouts in all of them. He lines up at no9 in the Supersport division and no14 in the larger capacity races. William also starts higher in the 600cc class, at number 14, with number 22 his number in the Superbike and Superstock Races.
Number 13 proved lucky for Dan Stewart 12 months ago as he claimed 6th in the Senior, his best ever position, and that’s again his number for 2010 whilst fellow leading privateer Carl Rennie goes one place further back, in the 1000cc capacity races at least. Other notable numbers in the Superbike class include Dan Kneen (18), Olie Linsdell (30), Senior Manx GP winner Michael Russell (52) and James Edmeades (57) – Linsdell moves up to number 20 for the Supersport races. Leading newcomers include Stephen Thompson (50), Hudson Kennaugh (54), David Johnson (58), Dan Hegarty (62) and Kenny Gilbertson (70).
American stars Mark Miller and Jimmy Moore again spearhead the overseas challenge, starting at numbers 17 and 33 in the big bike races (Moore up to number 17 for the Supersport class) whilst a lot of eyes will fall upon German rider Rico Penzkofer and the BMW who goes at number 31, just ahead of Italian regular Stefano Bonetti. Luis Carreira is at 37 whilst an interesting entry has been received from former podium finisher and 500cc Grand Prix rider Peter Linden, the Swede riding Honda machinery in all five solo classes.
It’s a similar story in the Formula 2 Sidecar class where the field contains no less than 3 World Champions and 9 crews who have lapped the Mountain Course in excess of 110mph. Arguably the man they all have to beat and the favourite for honours is again local hero Dave Molyneux although the 14-times winner has a double challenge with a new manufacturer and passenger on board, Kawasaki and Gary Partridge respectively. The pairing will go off at number 1, ten seconds ahead of the leading Suzuki-powered outfit, John Holden and Andrew Winkle getting their highest ever start number at 2 with the new pairing of Simon Neary and Paul Knapton, supported by 5-times winner and outright lap record holder Nick Crowe, at number 3.
Tim Reeves, another major contender for honours with passenger Dan Sayle, is the first World Champion to leave the line at number 4, just ahead of the second, Klaus Klaffenbock who is reunited with Christian Parzer. Reigning World Champions Ben and Tom Birchall come into their second year of TT competition and their debut performance is rewarded with a start number of 7 whilst Conrad Harrison/Kerry Williams (6), Roy Hanks/Dave Wells (8), Steve Coombes/Jamie Winn (9) and Gary Bryan/Mark Sayers (10) complete the first 10 in the field.
The returning Tony Elmer is at number 12 with Gary and Dan Knight, 4th in the 2009 World Championship, the first of the newcomers at 34.