2019 Isle of Man TT Preview
The 100th meeting of the Isle of Man TT is nearly upon us, with competitors getting ready to tackle the 37.73-mile Snaefell Mountain Course.
Qualifying is already well under way, leading up to the first day of racing this Saturday, June 1, with the RST Superbike TT and Sidecar TT Race 1 (weather permitting, of course). As usual, our TT correspondent Andrew Capone will be filing reports from the scene, giving us a look around the paddock and around the Isle of Man. UPDATE: Due to weather affecting the qualifying schedule, the first day of racing has been pushed to Sunday, June 2. —Ed.
Here are some of the plotlines to watch as the 2019 TT Week unfolds.
Return of John McGuinness
John McGuinness, the active leader in overall TT victories, will make his return to the Isle of Man after missing the 2017 and 2018 races due to injury. With 23 career TT wins to his name, the Morecambe Missile is just three short of the all-time record held by the legendary Joey Dunlop.
This year, McGuinness will compete on the Norton SG8 in the Superbike and Senior TT as well as the Lightweight TT class on Norton‘s new Superlight 650, and in the TT Zero with Mugen. Over the weekend, McGuinness secured a ride with Padgett’s Honda to race the Supersport TT class on the CBR600RR.
Can McGuinness return to the top of the podium after his prolonged absence? It’ll be tough, especially with the talent he’s up against and the relatively new machinery from Norton. No doubt many TT fans will be ready to raise a pint to cheer McGuinness on.
Will Peter Hickman’s Overall Lap Record Hold?
Last year’s TT saw new lap records set in every category, but the big one was Peter Hickman‘s overall record 135.452 mph lap set in the 2018 Senior TT on a BMW S1000RR. Dean Harrison has a good shot, after falling just 0.044 mph short in the same race. Michael Dunlop, who led all competitors last year with three wins, remains a threat.
Dunlop and Hickman will both be riding the new 2019 S1000RR, so it’ll be interesting to see how the new BMW fares compared to the record-setting previous version.
Can Anyone Beat the Birchall Brothers?
You have to go back to the first TT in 2016 to find the last time the Ben Birchall and Tom Birchall were beaten in the Sidecar class. The brothers have won the last five Sidecar TT events and hold the lap record with an average speed of 119.250 mph.
Their top challengers may be the two teams that joined them on the podium in last year’s TT. John Holden and Lee Cain finished second in both Sidecar TT races last year, with Tim Reeves and Mark Wilkes taking a pair of third-place results. Not to be forgotten is Dave Molyneux who will be looking to win his 18th career TT. Molyneux will be joined by a new passenger in Harry Payne, and a new LCR chassis.
The Dunlop Family Legacy
Michael Dunlop sits third overall in career TT wins with 18 victories (including three last year), but he’s still eight wins in arrears of his uncle, Joey Dunlop. While we celebrate his family’s winning legacy, we also acknowledge the Dunlop family’s losses. Michael’s uncle Joey (2000), his father Robert (2008) and last year, his brother William, all lost their lives road racing.
It now falls to Michael Dunlop to carry his family’s name in this year’s TT. After his brother’s death at the Skerries 100 last July, Michael Dunlop took time off from racing to mourn and contemplate his career. Dunlop returned to racing at the North West 200 earlier this month, showing little signs of rust in taking a third-place podium finish in the Superstock class.
2019 Isle of Man TT Race Schedule
|Date||Local Time||Category||Race Duration|
|Sun. June 2||1:30pm||RST Superbike TT Race||6 Laps|
|Sun. June 2||3:50pm||Sidecar TT Race 1||3 Laps|
|Mon. June 3||10:45am||Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 1||4 Laps|
|Mon. June 3||2:15pm||RL360 Superstock TT||4 Laps|
|Wed. June 5||10:45am||Monster Energy Supersport TT Race 2||4 Laps|
|Wed. June 5||12:45pm||TT Zero||1 Lap|
|Wed. June 5||2:10pm||Bennetts Lightweight TT||4 Laps|
|Fri. June 7||10:30am||Sidecar TT Race 2||3 Laps|
|Fri. June 7||12:45pm||Senior TT||6 Laps|
Race schedule subject to change
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