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‘I miss the big trips’: Bike-mad William gets nostalgic on Isle of Man TT visit

He confessed he used to have a Ducati 1209 but had downsized to a less powerful bike from the same manufacturer.

The Duke of Cambridge got to grips with a silver dream machine during a visit to the Isle of Man TT – and could not stop grinning.

William jumped at the chance to sit on the handbuilt Norton SG7, which has a top speed of 208mph, but the bike-mad royal confessed: “I’m a father of three, I have to tone it down now.”

As he chatted to Stuart Garner, chief executive and owner of Norton Motorcycles, the duke crouched down over the tiny windscreen and joked “I always stick to the speed limit”, and as he stepped off added “love it, absolutely love it”.

The duke confessed he used to have a Ducati 1209 but had downsized to a less powerful bike from the same manufacturer and revealed he used to ride scramblers with his brother the Duke of Sussex and they would “basically try and hit each other”.

Speaking in the TT bike paddock with the Norton race team around him, William said: “I miss the big trips, for me biking was always about being with everybody else.”

He had earlier indulged his passion for bikes by watching the final stages of the TT Supersport Race 2 where the 600cc bikes, which can reach 180mph, roared past at incredible speeds through the finish line.

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William, left, looks on as Isle of Man TT competitor Michael Rutter races past on his motorbike (Peter Byrne/PA)

The Isle of Man TT was first staged in 1907 and is one of the oldest continuous motorsport events in the world.

It features riders competing in a number of races, from a superbike category to sidecar events, in time trials around the circuit, which is almost 38 miles long and renowned for its difficulty and danger.

The Norton boss’ race machine is derived from his firm’s V4 RR road bike and was entered in the superbike and senior events at the TT.

Speaking about William Mr Garner added: “He’s a bike guy, he understands motorbikes so it’s good to be able to chat bikes – he genuinely gets it.

“He was just saying being on a dirt bike as a kid, just having a real-world experience growing up, all of us here have done that and he’s done the same.”

Along with Harry, the duke has been a keen biker from a young age and in 2003, as he celebrated his 21st birthday, he said he was “passionate” about motorcycles and preferred two wheels to his car.

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William, centre, meets fans, staff and volunteers at the Isle of Man TT (Peter Byrne/PA)

In 2008 the brothers took part in an arduous motorcycle rally across Africa joining dozens of other riders on the trek.

The Enduro Africa 08 event raised money for a variety of charities including Harry’s Sentebale.

When William first arrived at the world-famous bike event he confessed Kate may have been a little sceptical of the intentions of his visit when Laurence Skelly, the Isle of Man government’s minister for enterprise, quizzed him about the duchess’ views.

The duke replied: “When I said I was going to the Isle of Man for an official visit she said ‘really?’.”

During his visit William started the TT Zero for electric bikes and watched as the near silent machines sped off into the distance.

The one-lap race was won by favourite Michael Rutter riding the Mugen bike and the duke gave him his winning trophy before the top three riders sprayed champagne everywhere.

William was clearly enjoying himself at the event and he wandered around the starting grid chatting to competitors in their leathers and carrying helmets before they took part in the Lightweight race.

Before leaving the Isle of Man the duke visited the Joey Dunlop Foundation. Established in 2001 and named after the legendary TT racer, it creates specialist accommodation for visitors to the Isle of Man with a disability.

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