Isle of Man reveals big changes for the TT when it returns in 2022
New race classes, live online coverage of qualifying and races, plus new schedule with two racing weekends for 2023
Like most riders, we’ve massively missed the Isle of Man TT races over the past two years. COVID-19 ruled the event out last year, and organisers also had to cancel it for this year, after the pandemic has grown again.
The Isle of Man relies heavily on the TT for income and tourism, and it’s been a huge blow economically, as well as emotionally for so many on the island.
But there is a small silver lining to the massive cloud of cancellation. The organisers of the races – the Manx government – has had the chance to step back over the past 15 months, take a look at where the TT was going, and make a series of structural changes to the event. And when it returns next year, the evolution of the TT will already have begun.
The first major revamp comes in the coverage of the races and qualifying. It’s probably a bit overdue, but from 2022, there will be live, online streaming of all the action on the 37.73 mile Mountain Course for the first time. Up till now, the TV coverage has generally been broadcast later in the day on ITV, with live reporting outside the island restricted to Manx Radio over a sometimes unreliable internet stream.
The aim isn’t to have a massive cash generator from the coverage, according to the Isle of Man government’s TT guru Paul Phillips, rather it’s to extend the number of eyes seeing the event.
As a result, he promises that prices for online streaming packages will be very keen, with plenty of free content also available online (prices are yet to be finalised).
So, it will be much easier to see the TT – but what else is changing?
Well, there’s a widely-expected tweak to the race classes, with the former Lightweight TT re-branded as the Supertwin TT, with a capacity increase to 700cc. That will allow Yamaha’s new R7 and Aprilia’s RS660 to enter the races for the first time, against the Kawasaki and Suzuki 650 twins already dominatin the class.
The sidecars also get new engine choices – they can now use up to 900cc parallel twins, meaning the likes of the BMW F900XR and KTM 890 motors will feature alongside the current 600 supersport fours and 675 triples.
The final change for 2022 is a new TT Fan Park near the paddock. Similar to the Fan Zones made popular during international football tournaments, it will centre around a massive TV screen and a stage. The entertainment will obviously include watching the racing on the big screen, alongside a packed bill of signing sessions, music, competitions and more, plus top-notch food and drink service alongside.
The race prize-giving ceremonies will be moved to the Fan Park stage too – meaning the fans can see the winners receive their Replica trophies live.
Lots happening in 2022 then – but 2023 will see even bigger changes, with a new race schedule, aimed at spreading visitors out across the fortnight. The races will kick off a day later, on the last May bank holiday Monday, with qualifying in the first week as usual. But the racing will then start with the first TT Supersport and Sidecar races on the first Saturday, and the TT Superbike race on the Sunday.
Racing will continue on the Tuesday and Wednesday, with Thursday off, then more racing on the Friday, and the final TT Senior race happening on the Saturday. It means that visitors can take in one of the two weekends, and have the chance to see one of the ‘big’ races – meaning hotel space, campsites and travel options should be easier to get hold of.
Exciting times for the TT then – and we’re now even more desperate to get back there…
More info: https://www.iomttraces.com