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MAN AND MACHINE

The term legend is bandied about too much these days, but one man and machine pairing that have earned that tag is John McGuinness and the Honda Fireblade…
Head and shoulders above the rest...
PICS: JOE DICK, IOM.COM, DOUBLERED, TIMKEETON, DAVEKNEEN ‚PACE MAKER PRESS

By the morning of last year’s Senior TT, John McGuinness had been written off. The Morecambe man’s mercurial talent had faded, according to the pundits, while the likes of a resurgent Bruce Anstey, a battling Ian Hutchinson and a doggedly determined James Hillier pushing McPint’s odds ever further north – to 16-1 as the man himself noted as he walked past a Manx bookies that morning.

But McGuinness woke up and felt good. After a week’s worth of mediocre results (for him), he decided to ‘come out of retirement’ and prove the doubters wrong. As ever, with the Isle of Man, there was a story behind the results. Not getting on the podium in Sunday’s weather delayed superbike race was down to problems with a fuel stop, while his superstock and supersport results werebetter than the previous year’s. So, in actual fact, McGuinness was in decent nick, meaning the small change to a different tyre for Friday’s blue riband event was enough to be back in the ball park. But his Honda Racing Fireblade still needed riding, and man did he take the bull by the horns.

Unbridled elation for McGuinness but an emotional outpouring for James Hillier after the brutally fast 2015 Senior race

In both the opening part of the race, which was red flagged after Jamie Hamilton’s horrific accident, and in the shortened four lapper that followed, McGuinness was untouchable. “I get asked if we were riding at 100 per cent, but in some areas we’re riding over that – I know I was. In the Senior, going into the Creg and Sulby, I put all my cards on the table. That was it, there was nothing left. In certain areas in the track we’re all at a similar pace, but now we’re looking at a tenth here and a tenth there. It’s now about nicking a few metres on the way into Quarter Bridge. I’m thinking that if you’re going to crash trying to get ahead it’s better to crash there. It was the same at Sulby (where McGuinness did his best backing it in impression of Sam Lowes). I thought if I don’t make it at least I can go in the field. I’ll run the risk at those type of corners.”

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TEST THE BEST IN THE BEST TEST Yes, it’s that time of year again when we all decamp to some far flung track and spend two days living the life of Riley; burning fuel, razzing tyres, scuffing sliders and scoffing pizzas. From the moment the light goes green to the second the circuit switches it back to red, we’re out on track trying to understand.
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