Belfast Telegraph

Brave Cameron Donald won't duck out

By Paul Lindsay

An engine blow up while flat out in fifth gear on a Superbike - which he described as 'a hand grenader!' - was not the sort of TT return two-time winner Cameron Donald was expecting.

Currently racing in the Malaysian Superbike Championship aboard a ZX-10R Kawasaki, Aussie Donald, who took a double win for Relentless Suzuki in the Superbike and Superstock classes at the 2008 Isle of Man TT races, is back on Japanese machinery at this year's showpiece event with Londonderry-based Wilson Craig Honda Racing.

The affable Warrandyte resident had entered semi-retirement from pure road racing following his fantastic second place in the 2013 Superbike race at the TT, but was lured back to help PR the new Norton venture by company CEO Stuart Garner in 2014 and 2015.

Competitive by nature, Donald decided that the lure of jumping back onto Honda machinery for TT2016 would help him deliver some achievable top six results on Mona's Isle.

So far, however - as can so often be the case at the Isle of Man TT -practice week has been nothing short of pure torture.

"It's been a tough start to say the least," said Donald.

"I came here feeling a bit like a newcomer again if I'm being honest. After two years riding the Norton, it was all about getting my confidence back.

"That was an adventure in itself and although we were lapping under 125mph, I really was riding my backside off to get the lap times we did."

If that was an adventure, his 150mph engine blow up at Shoughlaigue, which has been re-named McGuinness' after the 23-time winner and is situated between Handley's and the ultra-fast top of Barregarrow section, almost had him booking an early flight back to Melbourne.

"I've never had a component failure in such a catastrophic way riding the TT circuit," he continued.

"And if I'm honest I was lying on the grass bank after I'd got the bike stopped thinking, 'what excuse can I make to walk away from here with the minimum of fuss?' It really was that type of moment."

But he was back in the saddle on Tuesday night aboard his Wilson Craig Racing Supersport 600, which ironically had stopped on him during the opening session on Saturday night.

But by the end of practice on Tuesday, the wide toothy smile that we've come to expect from the tattooed Aussie was back, accompanied by a respectable 122mph lap.

"The Supersport class is not my strongest class as I'm not riding one these days. It's now all about getting the Superbike rebuilt and back out there for some laps before Saturday's six-lap Superbike race," he said.

Confident in his own ability, but also pragmatic in his summing up, Donald said of the week ahead: "I came here looking to work myself into competing in and around the top five. If you do that at the TT anything can happen.

"The competition out there this year is huge, but I've done the times before and I'm as fit as I've ever been and riding well in the Malaysian Championship, which I want to contest all year.

"Taking that into consideration, if I can get more laps to get acclimatised and top the confidence up, we will certainly not be a million miles away."

Adding to his podium collection over the next week at this year's Isle of Man TT could well turn out to be a mammoth task.

But the 38-year-old will remain a big hit with the hardcore TT fans, who always respect a former winner on the world's toughest strip of pure road racing tarmac.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph