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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Island Racer 2017 > THE WHO’S WHO OF SOLO RIDERS

THE WHO’S WHO OF SOLO RIDERS

The TT is all about speed. Our look at the who’s who this year runs in speed order.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE Speed FASTEST FIRST

1 MICHAEL DUNLOP

FROM: Bally money, Northern Ireland

RACES: Superbike and Senior (Bennetts Suzuki), Superstock (MD Racing/ Carl Cox Motorsport Suzuki), Supersport (TBC) and Lightweight (McAdoo Racing Kawasaki)

TT DEBUT: 2007

BESTRESULT: 13 wins, 22 podiums

FASTESTLAP: 133.962mph

After a disappointing 2015, Michael Dunlop responded in devastating fashion in 2016 with two quite simply stunning performances in the Superbike and Senior races. Reverting back to the tried and tested set-up of BMW and Hawk Racing, The Northern Irishman tore up the record books in devastating fashion, not only becoming the first man to lap the Mountain Course in under 17 minutes but also pushing the outright lap record to close to 134mph. He remains with the same team for 2017 but has taken a bit of a gamble by switching to the all-new GSXR1000 Suzuki, a bike which hasn’t won at the TT since 2008. However, early indications are that the Suzuki will be more than competitive and having already won on Honda, BMW and Kawasaki in the 1000cc races, don’t bet against Dunlop doing the same on Suzuki.

2 IAN HUTCHINSON

FROM: Bingley, England

RACES: Superbike, Senior and Superstock (Tyco BMW), Supersport (Team Traction Control Yamaha)

TT DEBUT: 2004

BESTRESULT: 14 wins, 25 podiums

FASTESTLAP: 133.115mph

With 10 podiums in his last 10 races at the TT, it’s fair to say the dark days are well and truly behind Ian Hutchinson. Those 10 podiums have included six wins as he’s been the dominant force in the Supersport and Superstock categories and with a career total now of 14, that makes him the joint third most successful solo rider of all time. The Senior and Superbike races have eluded Hutchy for the last two years though and although he pushed Dunlop harder than anyone else 12months ago, taking a brace of seconds and also breaking the 133mph barrier, he’s ultimately had to play second best. Riding better than he’s ever done, winning one of those two races will be his main goal in 2017 and his Tyco team have made the bold move to Dunlop tyres after years on Pirelli/Metzeler. With four wins in the last four races, the Yorkshire rider continues with Keith Flint’s Yamaha team for the Supersport encounters.

3 JOHN MCGUINNESS

FROM: Morecambe, England

RACES: Superbike and Senior (Honda Racing), Superstock (EMC2 Racing), Supersport (Jackson Racing Honda), TT Zero (TeamMugen)

TT DEBUT: 1996

BEST RESULT: 23 wins, 46 podiums

FASTESTLAP: 132.701mph

Victory in the 2015 Senior showed the John McGuinness success story was far from over but even the 23-times TT winner had no answer to the blazing trail that was set last year by Dunlop and Hutchinson. The Morecambe Missilewas still the best of the rest though with third place finishes, and 132mph+ laps, in both the Superbike and Senior races. Seeing the bar raised so high may have given him food for thought but the new Honda Fireblade has given him plenty of motivation for the season ahead, while beating new team-mate Guy Martin will be equally high on his agenda. McGuinness still has plenty left in the tank – he’s lapping as quick as he’s ever done in the Supersport class – and with so many changes having taken place over the winter months, his experience may well be the key to further success in 2017.

4 PETER HICKMAN

FROM: Louth, England

RACES: Superbike, Senior and Superstock (Smiths Racing BMW), Supersport (Smiths Racing Triumph)

TT DEBUT: 2014

BESTRESULT: 4th, 2016 Superbike

FASTESTLAP: 132.465mph

After two superb years at the TT in 2014 and 2015, last year’s event was extremely challenging for Peter Hickman who remains the fastest newcomer ever around the Mountain Course. A move from BMW to Kawasaki didn’t pay dividends as he and the JG Speed fit team were beset with problems which left him parked up by the roadside during both practice and race week. His best finish, fourth, came in the opening Superbike race where he further proved his credentials as he set the fourth fastest lap ever but his only other finish was eighth in the second Supersport race. Winner of the Macau Grand Prix for the last two years, and also the 2016 BSB Rider’s Cup, Hickman is, arguably, the best all-rounder in the sport at present and he’ll be hoping a return to BMW will help him make it on to the podium for the first time in his short TT career.

5 JAMES HILLIER

FROM: Dorset, England

RACES: Superbike, Senior, Superstock, Senior and Lightweight (JG Speedfit Kawasaki)

TT DEBUT: 2008

BEST RESULT: 1 win, 9 podiums

FASTEST LAP: 132.414mph

The most consistent rider on the grid, Hillier has now finished an amazing 44 races out of the 46 he’s started with those DNFs coming as far back as 2010. His record of top 10 finishes – indeed, top five finishes – is testament to both his ability and the team’s mechanical prowess and he continues to challenge for race wins in all of the classes. Last year saw him add three more podiums to his ever-increasing collection and while he wasn’t able to take a second race win, he was in contention in all of them. He was a bit disappointed with his results in the feature 1000cc races but third in the Superstock race was an excellent result and his fastest lap in that particular race was the second fastest ever by a Superstock machine. This year sees him forsake the Lightweight class in order to ensure he’s fully prepared for the Senior finale.

6 GUY MARTIN

FROM: Kirmington, England

RACES: Superbike, Superstock and Senior (Honda Racing)

TT DEBUT: 2004

BEST RESULT: 16 podiums (2ndx7, 3rdx9)

FASTEST LAP: 132.398mph

Without doubt, the biggest story of the winter has been the return of Guy Martin, not only his return to racing but also the fact he’s returning with Honda and not TAS Racing, for whom he rode between 2011 and 2015.The Lincolnshire rider sat out the entire 2016 race season, a combination of injuries sustained at the 2015 Ulster Grand Prix and his TV commitments, so only time will tell if he’s able to get back to the level he was previously at. His last TT saw him claim fourth in the Senior and a 132mph+ lap but the game moved on in 2016 and it certainly won’t be a formality for Martin to step back on to the podium again, let alone clinch that elusive win. He’s declared his return is for all the right reasons and Honda have certainly secured a major coup with his signing so now it’s up to both the rider and the new Fireblade to prove they have what it takes.

7 BRUCE ANSTEY

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About Fast Bikes

Island Racer 2017 is the ultimate guide to this year’s TT. The packed 148-page edition includes: • Ian Hutchinson: The Bingley Bullet has 14 race wins in the bag, and is hunting for more • McGuinness and Martin: Honda’s biggest ever dream team • Also featuring Peter Hickman, Josh Brookes, Dan Kneen and Tim Reeves • The complete 2017 TT Racer's Who’s Who • A beginner’s guide to the TT • A massive multi-part TT poster • Blast from the past racing archive features
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