John McGuinness says he will hang up his leathers if he manages to draw level with Ulster road racing legend Joey Dunlop’s record haul of Isle of Man TT wins.
Almost 17 years after his death, Dunlop remains the most successful rider ever around the Mountain Course with 26 victories to his name, the last of which he achieved in 2000 when he famously clinched a treble – including the Formula 1 success he so badly wanted on the Honda SP1.
McGuinness is only three wins away from joining Dunlop at the top of the TT’s most-wins table and the Morecambe man, who turns 45 next month, says he would call a halt to his illustrious career if he achieves the feat.
He claimed his most recent win in the shortened four-lap Senior TT in 2015 and is hoping Honda’s brand new CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 will give him the extra edge he needs to climb the top step again in the blue riband race in June.
Speaking at the official launch of the TT at the Villa Marina in Douglas on Thursday night, the Honda Racing rider said: “I genuinely think so [will retire] if I get 26 wins. I’ve been thinking about retirement a lot and about all the races I’ve won around here.
“Looking back, the 2015 Senior would have been a great time to do it. I’ll be 45 in a few weeks and I’m becoming an old man, but Joey was still winning when he was 48.
“I wouldn’t like to do it on the electric bike, I’d want to equal Joey’s record on a petrol bike,” he added.
“There’s a new bike out this year and I want to see if I can still cut it. If everything is right on the day then there’s no reason why I can’t win another big bike race.”
Meanwhile, Manx rider Conor Cummins has signed for the Padgetts Honda team for 2017, joining Kiwi Bruce Anstey in the Batley-based squad.
The announcement was made at the TT launch and Cummins will ride a CBR1000RR Fireblade in the Superbike, Superstock and Senior races, plus a CBR600RR in the Supersport races.
Anstey will again ride the MotoGP-based Honda RC213V-S in the famous Padgetts colours, although the team is on the lookout for a new title sponsor after the deal with Valvoline reached an end.