Isle of Man TT Festival - get ready

Some of the biggest names in motorcycle racing will be converging on the Isle of Man for this year's Centenary TT Racing Festival - among them will be the sporting icons Giacomo Agostini, Carl Fogarty, Phil Read, John Surtees, Phillip McCallen and Charlie Williams, all taking part in parade laps, while with the modern day heroes will aiming for special place in the sporting annals by taking race victories on this special milestone for the 37.73 mile Mountain Course.

Leading the entry is the eleven times TT winner and outright lap record holder John McGuinness, riding the powerful HM Plant Honda Fireblade, and eager for an action replay of his successes in the two 'big-bike' events, the opening Superbike TT (Saturday 2 June) and the prestigious finale, the Senior TT (Friday 8 June), both decided over six gruelling laps of this public roads course that winds around the Island, through towns and villages, and over the heights of Snaefell Mountain.

The Lancastrian dominated them both, winning the Superbikes at an average speed of 124.76mph, and then in the Senior shattering the outright record with a remarkable lap of 129.45mph, and a race record speed of 126.17mph. "I didn't think that was possible, and some say the speeds are insane but I felt that I had a bit in reserve on the Superbike. Last year the conditions were perfect." McGuinness recalled.

"People are going to push on this time because it is such a special year - we are there for 100 years and won't be back for the 200 year celebrations which is why everyone will want to win. It is going to be intense. The riders are better, the teams stronger, the tyres improved and I am certain that the racing will get faster. "If the conditions are good, the 130mph lap will be broken. It is going to happen and I will just be concentrating and enjoying it. There is pressure but once you put your helmet on it is me, the bike and the road, and it will take a good man to beat me," said a confident McGuinness who is gunning for his fourth consecutive Superbike victory and third Senior success." He concluded.

Ian Hutchinson rides the second HM Plant Honda while Ian Lougher, aiming to take his first ever 'big-bike' victory on the Island rides a Honda in Stobart Motorsport colours while Guy Martin riders for Hydrex Honda, Cameron Donald is aboard the Robinson Concrete backed Honda and there is Mark Johns Motors Honda for Ryan Faquhar.

The Honda mounted entry will face stiff opposition from several-seasoned road racing specialist who have all tasted success around the formidable circuit. Michael Rutter returns to ride the event for the first time in seven years aboard a Kawasaki, as does Raymond Porter, while Adrian Archibald and Bruce Anstey are on Suzuki's but Paul Hunt and Steve Plater, who makes his debut on the Island are aboard Yamahas.

McGuinness, again riding in HM Plant Honda colours, will be bidding to end the two-year reign of Anstey in the Superstock TT (Monday 4 June). Then the rider whose love affair with the event began as a schoolboy when he accompanied his father on trips from their Morecambe home to watch the races, rides a Honda CBR600RR, in Padgetts colours, as he bids for a repeat of his victory in last year's Supersport TT, (Wednesday 6 June), again over four laps. The entry for both of those events mirrors that for the two feature solo events.

Sidecar racing has always been key to the Tourist Trophy races and it is a Manx rider who is again favourite to add to his record tally of victories. Dave Molyneux, passengered by Rick Long, rides the HM Plant Honda Windle outfit, engineered by the driver, against a strong field that includes last year's Honda powered double race winners, also Isle of Man residents, Nick Crowe and Daniel Sayle.

Former World Champions Klaus Klaffenbock and Christian Parzer are back for more aboard their Honda powered outfit while long time campaigners Roy Hanks and Dave Well rely on Suzuki power, with Yamaha driving the hopes of Steve Norbury and Scott Parnell. They have two races, each over three laps on Saturday and Wednesday.

Around the races, there is time for nostalgia with a TT Lap of Honour, led by Jim Redman, riding a 1964 250cc Honda and a TT Centenary Parade of Champions on the closing afternoon of the festival.

Practice begins on Saturday 26 May, with further sessions daily from Monday 28 May through Friday 1 June, with the race programme beginning on Saturday 2 June with the Superbike TT over six laps and the first of the two sidecar races over three laps.

Race and events programme.

Saturday 2 June: 12.00. Superbike TT - 6 laps.
15.00. Sidecar Race A - 3 laps.

Monday 4 June: 10.45. Superstock - 4 laps.
15.00. TT Century Parade Lap of Honour

Wednesday 6 June: 10.45. Supersport - 4 laps.
13.15 Sidecar Race B - 3 laps.

Friday 8 June: 12.00. Senior TT - 6 laps.
The Senior TT Race is followed by the Parade of Champions.