It’s Isle of Man TT 2024 Time!

Published: May 30, 2024

It’s the month of May which can only mean one thing, International road racing – and with the North West 200 having recently taken place, all eyes are now looking towards the Isle of Man TT Races with practice around the world-famous 37 and 3/4-mile Mountain Course getting underway on Monday 27th May.

The Superbike Start Isle of Man TT
The Superbike Start Image Credit Stephen Davison (Pacemaker Press International)

Irwin reigns supreme

For some, the North West 200 acts as a form guide for the Isle of Man TT despite their numerous differences and despite the fact some riders don’t compete at both events.

One of those is Glenn Irwin and it was him that dominated the Superbike races at the Irish meeting.

Riding the Hager PBM Ducati, Irwin won all three Superbike races around the high-speed 8.97-mile circuit which links the towns of Portstewart, Coleraine and Portrush to make it 11 straight wins in the class although he was made to work hard by Davey Todd in all three.

It also made him the most successful Superbike rider ever, surpassing the nine wins taken by both Joey Dunlop and Michael Rutter.

Although he contested the 2022 Isle of Man TT, becoming the fastest newcomer ever with a near 130mph lap, Irwin has since decided to make the North West 200 his only road race of the year and in his own words, it’s his Champions Leage meeting.

He grew up as a child in the paddock when dad Alan was competing, and he’s made it crystal clear what the event means to him.

Nothing was going to stop him this year and all three rides followed similar patterns as he shadowed Todd in the early stages before making his move.

Glenn Irwin and Davey Todd Isle of Man TT
Glenn Irwin and Davey Todd Image Credit Stephen Davison (Pacemaker Press International)

His race craft was exemplary and once ahead he never allowed Todd to retaliate particularly along the all-important run along the coast road where the combination of Irwin and the Ducati were quicker than anyone. Only time will tell if he reverses his TT decision but, for now, he’s the King of the North West 200.


Todd impresses

Davey Todd was the only rider to get close to Irwin in the Superbike races, taking a close second in all three but the Milwaukee BMW rider was victorious in both Superstock races as well as the second Supersport race on the Powertoolmate Ducati.

He’s also been in fine form in the Pirelli National Superstock Championship, which he won in 2022, taking victory in the opening two rounds.

He’ll be hoping to continue that form at the TT although he’ll also be mindful of the fact that he did something similar at last year’s North West 200 only to have a disappointing TT campaign.

Davey Todd Isle of Man TT
Davey Todd leads Dean Harrison Image Credit Stephen Davison (Pacemaker Press International)

Indeed, 16 of his 20 International podiums have come at the North West and having been tipped by many to take the challenge to Peter Hickman, Michael Dunlop and Dean Harrison at the TT, he’ll be desperate to ensure that it happens in 2024.

He’s clearly at home with the TAS Racing team though as well as with the BMW and Ducati machinery so the signs are more than promising. The latter has no previous form at the TT – indeed, the Italian giant has only won eight TT races in its 117-year history – but the ingredients are there for Todd to challenge strongly in all classes this year.


Strong but not spectacular for the ‘big three’

The North West 200 saw the big three, at the TT at least, of Peter Hickman, Michael Dunlop and Dean Harrison have strong meetings albeit not spectacular ones with only Hickman taking race wins, both of them, perhaps surprisingly, in the Supertwin class.

Hickman arrived in Ireland with a broken bone in his hand, legacy of three crashes at the preceding British Superbike Championship round at Oulton Park, whilst he was also without his FHO Racing BMW Superbike machines, the team having opted out of the event after being disqualified from last year’s Superstock qualifying sessions.

Peter Hickman Isle of Man TT
Peter Hickman Image Credit Stephen Davison (Pacemaker Press International)

That meant Hickman only had his own PHR Performance Superstock-spec machine for the Superbike races, which meant it was difficult to make a comparison, and a solitary fourth place was his best result.

He did, however, take a second in the opening Superstock race as well as repeating the result in the opening Supersport encounter whilst the Supertwin wins came his way on the immaculate Swan Yamaha.

The TT is his main event though and everyone’s expecting him to be running at the front on the island where he’s held the outright lap record since 2018.

Dunlop too was nursing a hand injury after crashing at the Cookstown 100 and he took no less than five third place finishes from his seven races at the North West 200.

Michael Dunlop Isle of Man TT
Michael Dunlop Image Credit Stephen Davison (Pacemaker Press International)

Getting his hands on the 2024 Hawk Racing Honda Fireblade for the first time inevitably came with some teething issues but like his main rivals, the TT wins are the most important especially this year as the 25-time winner looks to better the record number of 26 victories held by his uncle Joey.

A switch to Triumph machinery for the Supersport class will also see him go head-to-head with Hickman on the same machinery for the first time.

Harrison, meanwhile, was in the slightly embarrassing situation of only being able to ride a Superstock machine at the North West 200, his Honda Racing team withdrawing their Superbike machines due to a delay in receiving a number of key parts.

They’ve also encountered several issues at the first BSB rounds which would also have played its part in their decision, whilst Harrison put a brave part on it throughout.

He obviously didn’t join Honda Racing to only ride a Superstock-spec machine, but he excelled on the only machine at his disposal, so his form is as good as ever.

He’s been the bridesmaid of late at the TT – last year saw him take one second and five thirds – so will be praying the Superbike issues have been resolved and he’ll be able to really take the challenge to Hickman and Dunlop at this year’s TT.


Old but gold

Now very much in the veteran category, 2024 marked 30 years since 52-year old John McGuinness made his debut at the North West 200 and he rolled back the years with a brilliant third place in the second Superstock race, his first podium at the event since 2012.

True, several front runners were either non-starters or retired, but you can only beat what’s in front of you and the results book shows he was the one who took the final podium position.

John McGuinness Isle of Man TT
John McGuinness Image Credit Stephen Davison (Pacemaker Press International)

He got the better of fellow Honda rider James Hillier after a final lap shootout and despite Irwin’s wins and Dunlop’s multiple podium appearance, it was the most popular result of the day.

In all truth, it’s unlikely McGuinness will be able to repeat the performance at the TT where top six positions will be his main aim, something which he achieved twelve months ago.

The 23-time TT winner is riding as well as ever and is the perfect back up to Harrison whilst he’ll no doubt be one of the first to shake Dunlop’s hand if he becomes the TT’s most successful rider.

More expected

For many of the other expected front runners at the TT, they were either missing from the North West 200, as was the case for Jamie Coward and Hickman’s team-mate Josh Brookes or had mixed meetings which was the case for Hillier and the Milenco by Padgetts Honda duo of Conor Cummins and Ian Hutchinson.

Hillier, now on the WTF Racing Honda, was the pick of the bunch with three fourth place finishes as he battled with McGuinness and Cummins on more than one occasion.

Supersport action Isle of Man TT
Supersport Action Image Credit Stephen Davison (Pacemaker Press International)

You’ll be hard pushed to find a more sensible rider on the roads than Hillier and you always know what you’ll get from him at the TT – a multitude of top six finishes and perhaps the odd podium or two,

Cummins missed several races at the Irish event, fifth in the second Supersport race his best result, but should be in the mix for TT podiums whilst team-mate Hutchinson was back on the roads after missing the entire 2023 season due to suffering a stroke.

He chalked up two top ten finishes in Ireland and he admitted it was harder than he thought it would be so it will be interesting to see how he fares at the substantially more demanding TT.

Meanwhile, both Coward and Brookes can be expected to be firmly challenging for top six finishes at the TT.

Coward, the leading privateer for the last three events, is getting better and better around the Mountain Course as is Brookes and with both having already lapped at more than 132mph, they’ll be expecting to make further progress this year and turn their frequent top six finishes into more regular appearances on the podium.

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