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John McGuinness casts doubt over Superbike return as riders heartbroken by decision to cancel Isle of Man TT

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John McGuinness

John McGuinness

PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Title holder: Peter Hickman won last year’s Superbike TT

Title holder: Peter Hickman won last year’s Superbike TT

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John McGuinness

The Isle of Man Government yesterday cancelled the 2021 TT races, which had been scheduled to take place from May 29 until June 12, blaming the Covid-19 pandemic for their decision.

Minister for Enterprise, Laurence Skelly MHK, said: "We do not underestimate the disappointment that this decision will cause to many people.

"However, we are making an early, logistical decision to provide certainty and clarity to race fans and everyone else involved in the event.

"The TT relies on thousands of volunteers and officials across a wide range of organisations and we could not move responsibility towards a positive decision to proceed in planning for 2021, which would involve committing tens of thousands of people to the Island in June, despite the progress towards a vaccination programme globally and on the Island.

"This decision has not been taken lightly, but has been taken in the interests of the Island, the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors and is in line with our ongoing pandemic strategy. It does not necessarily mean the Island's border will remain under the current restrictions as we hope to welcome visitors back to the Isle of Man at the earliest opportunity."

The Department of Enterprise also said it would continue to work with the Manx Motor Cycle Club and other partners towards delivering the 2021 Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix scheduled to run from August 21-September 3 with the situation being monitored on a regular basis ahead of a final decision to be taken by March.

Speaking on Manx Radio, 23-time TT winner John McGuinness said: "I felt a bit empty this morning when I heard the news, although not really surprised. Selfishly it's come at the wrong time in my career.

"I'll be 50 years of age when I next look down Bray Hill on a Superbike and I don't know if that's going to happen. It's affected us all, it's my living, it's what we all want to do.

"Riders will be deeply disappointed and we'll miss it badly and I really hope the TT can return bigger and better than ever in 2022.

"2021 would have been my 100th start and I'd really like to reach that milestone even if in 2022!"

Ian Hutchinson, the only man to win five solo TT races in one week, said: "It's devastating to hear this news.

"We have to respect the people on the Island, but this decision will break a lot of hearts. It's a massive blow to riders and teams who have a lot of money tied into getting a rider out there.

"I had just signed a deal for the British championship and TT for next year, but will have to revisit that.

"I hope TT can stay around as it was in a really, really good place, but to get sponsors and teams back again in 2022 is obviously a big ask," conceded the hugely popular Hutchinson, who has overcome so many injuries.

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Ian Hutchinson

Ian Hutchinson

Ian Hutchinson

 

The news also has huge implications for the 2021 North West 200 which is currently due to run in May, although organisers may be hedging their bets by also contemplating an August date for the event.

Coleraine and District Motor Club do have obstacles to overcome, a major one being it is run within a densely populated area with many people against bringing huge crowds into the vicinity.

Belfast Telegraph


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