No. 1 plate for McGuinness in Superbike, Senior & Superstock TTs.

836

The final pieces of the jigsaw have been put into place with the seeds for the Superbike, Senior and Superstock Races at TT 2024 having been announced. 23 times winner John McGuinness has the honour of being first away in these races. He has had the plate on several occasions in the past. The Superbike Race will be his 109th start at the world’s premier road races. Still lapping consistently at over 131mph he could be in the top 6 in some of his races. Jamie Coward has the number 2 plate. Last year the 33 year old set his best lap to date when he recorded 131.921mph on his Superstock machine. This year he stays with (Steadplan) Honda power and will be looking for at least a top 6 finish.

Dean Harrison has chosen to move to 3 from 2 (after several years). He has moved to the official Honda team and will be hoping that the extra top end of the Fireblade will allow him to challenge even more strongly for wins in these 1000cc classes. He seems sure to at least amass some podium finishes. The returning Ian Hutchinson is the Milenco Padgett’s colours. Who can forget his 5 timer for Padgett’s in 2010. Ian is a superb rider; fifth fastest on the all-time list; but his long layoff probably means that a top 6 finish will not be achieved this year.

Having set the fastest ever lap by a Yamaha rider at 132.703mph in last year’s Senior Race; James Hillier has moved to Honda power with the WFT Racing Team for this year’s big bike races. 7th on the all-time fastest laps chart he will be amongst those scrapping for podium finishes this year. 25 times TT winner Michael Dunlop has yet to confirm his plans for the big bike classes; but it seems 99% certain that he will be on board a CBRR-R 1000 for this year’s races. There will be fine margins in these races; if he can make it handle as he wants; he could repeat last year’s win on the Superbike.

Josh Brookes rode superbly on his comeback last year and by the end of Race Week had pushed his best lap speed up to132.529mph; to be 9th fastest rider. He remains with the FHO BMW this year and will looking for podium places. Having left the Padgett set up last year and moved to Milwaukee BMW for his big bike riders Davey Todd will hoping to steer clear of illness this year. Davey has developed into a very fine road racer. His best lap of 132.982mph; set when far from fully fit; shows that he is ready to challenge for the podium; if the bike handles the bumps and adverse cambers of the Mountain Course. Rising star Craig Neve is rewarded with the number 9 plate. He has gone under most radar, he led the 2022 Classic Superbike Race at the MGP and last year put his best lap speed up to 130.863mph in last year’s Senior. He is maturing into fine rider and could come close to a top 6 finish this year.

Outright lap record holder Peter Hickman; who could ever forget that stunning 136.358mph lap in last year’s second Superstock Race; keeps his favoured number 10. On the familiar FHO BMWs he will be the favourite for all of these races. However; as was shown last year; if the bike is not 100% right, he can be beaten. It will be a huge shock if he does not add to his win tally in these four races. Fastest Manxman and 4th fastest rider of all time; Conor Cummins has the 11 plate on the familiar Milenco Padgett’s bikes that he has ridden for many years. Last year he and Davey Todd had their week blighted by illness that put them in hospital. His fourth place in the Senior; after such a debilitating illness was amazing. If he is fully fit, then he will be challenging for more podium places.

Last year’s bird scarer; Davo Johnson; moves to 12 this year. This year he has the Platinum Racing Club (works) Kawasaki. The winner of a Classic Superbike Race at the MGP meeting, he can mix it with the best and is capable of a top 6 finish; if the new bike handles well. Lee Johnston has his favoured number 13. Lee suffered a huge crash at the NW 200 last year that ended his season. A further leg fracture in testing this year has put his recovery back; this year must be about gaining strength and confidence ready for a full paced attempt next year. 30 years on from his debut Michael Rutter is still a force to be reckoned with. The RCV213V has been consigned to history. This year he will have BMW power in the Batham’s backed Superbike and Senior race bikes. Still capable of 130mph laps he could take a top 10 finish in one of his races.

Rob Hodson is another former winner of a Classic Superbike Race at the MGP meeting. One of the 130mph+ club he will be hoping to put the SMT Honda into the top 10 in one or more races. Another 130mph+ man is Dominic Herbertson who chases Rob from 15th on the grid. He has the Burrows Engineering / RK Racing BMW and like Rob could produce a top 10 in at least one of these four races. Gary Johnson (Bill Smith Honda) returns from his injury enforced absence last year. Another 130mph man and double Supersport winner he will be hoping for a change in the luck that has dogged him in recent years. At his very best he would be a top 6 man.

Shaun Anderson took some big steps forward last year; putting the Team Classic Suzuki around at over 130mph and impressing in the MGP Classic Races. The Suzuki may not be most rapid bike on the grid; but Shaun could nudge into the top 10 in one of the races, given a fair wind. Phil Crowe retains the Agri Wash BMW on which he was just under the 130mph barrier last year. Breaking that and making the top 10 in at least 1 race should be within his set of targets. Last year Mike Browne became the fastest Irish (excluding Northern Ireland) rider in the history of the event. This despite handling issues that were never resolved. His best lap of 129.294mph could have been markedly quicker if the machine was not trying to tie itself in knots on the fast bumpy sections. He his rides in other classes have shown how good the quietly spoken young man is. His ride is yet to be announced for these classes; given a machine that handles well he will break the 130mph barrier; no problem.

Outside of the seeds; look out for Dean Harrison on the Honda Racing Fireblades. He is rapid and will be mentored by the great John McGuinness. With Dean in the team there is no pressure on Nathan to ride the wheels of it this year. Julian Trummer; the fastest European rider, the rapidly improving David Datzer, Sam West, Mikey Evans; Ryan Cringle and James Hind could shake the more established riders ahead of them on the grid.

All that we need now is for the weather to repeat its performance from last year.