Another Isle of Man TT has almost come and gone, with tired, happy racers and fans getting ready to head back across the Irish Sea for another year when the weekend ends. This year’s event was marked by semi-historic events—Dunlops (the men, not the tires) in the top ten, electric motorcycles breaking the Ton and the return of a racing Norton. The icing on the cake? No competitor deaths, unusual for the 100-plus-year-old public-roads event.
The final race day (including the prestigious Senior TT) has been postponed due to the usual rainy weather, but there have been some notable results so far. Michael Dunlop, the late, great Joey Dunlop’s nephew, took his third TT trophy after a close-fought Supersport battle with Cameron Donald. His older brother William carried his own torch, with a strong showing in both the Superbike and Supersport 1 races. Be sure to check the final results at Iomtt.com tomorrow and expect John McGuinness to come out on top in the Senior.
Electric motorcycle racing may have come into its own at the TT this year, despite what looked like a small field of racers finishing. The TT Zero race (sponsored by SES, a satellite communications company) had 18 entries, but only eight made it to the start line and only four finished. But of the four finishers, three of them broke the “Ton,” averaging over 100 mph and earning the Silver Replica. Two of the bikes—the first place finisher, ridden by IoM regular Michael Rutter and the third-place bike, with Mark Miller on board—were Motoczysz E1pc racers, a highly-developed and fast-as-hell machine with a liquid-cooled motor. Second place, notably, went to the famed John McGuinness on the Team Mugen racer, which has been hailed as Honda’s debut in big-time electric, as Mugen has always been associated with Honda. Rutter was presented with a check for 10,000 UK Pounds (about $15,000) for his achievement.
One nice thing this year—no competitor deaths (and I hope writing this doesn’t jinx anybody), unusual for an event that sees at least one such tragedy a year. Sadly, spectator deaths have been high this year, according to the Isle of Man Today newspaper. Five deaths have been reported as of this morning.
One happy note is the return of Norton. Though the rotary-engine TT588 entered the event in 2009, the machine failed to qualify. This year, the resurrected company built a Spondon-framed racebike with an Aprilia V-Four powerplant, complete with signature polished aluminum gas tank. The bike is expected to grid for the Senior TT race tomorrow, piloted by Ian Mackman. The factory is developing the rotary model for future events.
In a world of 2000-word liability waivers and event organizers terrified by stories of bloodthirsty lawyers suing for the tiniest things, it’s nice to see this storied event surviving and thriving. Let’s hope the introduction of electric motos keeps the racing exciting for another century.