Isle of Man TT will be back 'better than ever' next year
The Isle of Man TT will return ‘stronger than ever’ in 2022, according to the Manx Government’s enterprise minister Laurence Skelly.
Mr Skelly revealed that his department has carried out extensive consultation with businesses, riders, teams, sponsors, officials and volunteers over the past year, creating the ‘largest body of intelligence’ ever gathered around the globally renowned motorcycle festival.
The iconic race is scheduled to return next year after the organisers were forced to cancel the event in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Only two World Wars and the foot and mouth agricultural disaster in 2001 have previously resulted in the cancellation of the TT, which was first held in 1907.
However, despite the setback of losing the world’s most prestigious road racing events in successive years, Minister Kelly believes the TT will re-emerge as popular as ever in just over 12 months’ time.
“What we were very concerned about is to ensure that the race survives and the brand survives, and we can come back stronger than ever,” he told Manx Radio.
“So this opportunity that we have taken in terms of consultation is with businesses, but also with riders, teams, sponsors and officials and volunteers, to ensure that they will be available to come back and that they will support it, and not least of all the fans.”
One man who has been particularly affected by the back-to-back cancellations is 23-time TT winner John McGuinness who is reaching the twilight of his illustrious career.
The Morecambe man, who is the second most successful TT rider ever behind Ulster legend Joey Dunlop, made his TT comeback with Norton in 2019 after missing the previous two years through injury following a crash at the North West 200 in 2017.
McGuinness would be 50 by the time of the 2022 TT but he is still committed to racing around the Mountain Course again and achieving a milestone 100th race start.
Speaking after this year’s TT was cancelled at the end of November, McGuinness said: “I’m a little bit empty to be honest. I’m not surprised, just sad really.
“For me selfishly, it’s the wrong time of my career to be missing another TT. I think all of us in the industry had it in our heads that the TT would probably go ahead in August, so it’s a bit of a shock for it to be called now but I understand.
“Next time I’ll stand on the start-line I’ll be 50 years old and to be looking down Bray Hill on a Superbike, I’m not sure if that’s going to happen.
“A couple of years is a long time ahead and it has affected us because it’s my living, my passion and my job… I’m just trying to get my head around it and I’m super disappointed. I was due to make my 100th TT start, which would have been a special moment, but if it’s 2022 then it’s 2022.”
The Isle of Man TT is scheduled to run from Sunday, May 29 to Friday, June 10 in 2022.
All road racing on the Isle of Man, including the Southern 100 at Billown and the Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix, has been wiped out by the pandemic for two years running.
The Irish road racing scene has been equally hard-hit, with only the Cookstown 100 going ahead in 2020. The Co Tyrone race has been postponed this year until September once again, while the Armoy ‘Race of Legends’ is gearing up for a return this summer from July 30-31. All other Irish national events, plus the North West 200, were called off.
Motorcycle racing was suspended in Northern Ireland until June by the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland (Ulster Centre), when a planned seven-round short circuit season is due to commence at Kirkistown in Co Down on June 5.
In England, Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough is scheduled to host four meetings this year, starting with the Spring Cup from May 22-23.
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