- One of the winningest TT riders in history is out in 2018, so who are the new names to watch?
- Dean Harrison is hugely fast and dead-set on winning the Senior, so keep an eye on him
- After five podiums in 2017, how about a win for Peter Hickman?
The Isle of Man TT shifts from practice to racing tomorrow, with the start of the Superbike TT race kicking off at noon local time. It’s a wholly unique sporting event, and one that deserves your attention, even if finding betting odds can be a challenge. Here are the most important things you should know about the 2018 Isle of Man TT.
John McGuiness is out
John McGuinness, the 23-time winner and living legend of the TT, was forced to withdraw after a crack formed at the site of the leg fracture he incurred at the North West 200.
Taking him out of the equation really opens up the event for the field. He’s capable of winning fistfuls of races in a single fortnight, and a 1.5 would be a reasonable over/under on his wins if he were competing. A lot of young riders hankering for their first TT win are likely salivating at the thought of a TT fortnight without McGuinness.
Will Michael Dunlop or Ian Hutchinson win more?
- Odds Michael Dunlop wins more races than Ian Hutchinson: 1/4
- Over/Under Michael Dunlop-Ian Hutchinson combined wins: 2.5
Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson are tied with 16 TT wins each, although one of Dunlop’s is a Classic TT and whether you count that or not is up to you. What matter is that both are capable of shutting down a race week: Dunlop won eight races in 2013 and 2014, which left slim picking for the rest of the field, and Ian Hutchinson famously won all five in 2010. They’re each competing to add to their total number of wins, hoping to one day catch John McGuinness (23 wins) and even Joey Dunlop (26) and take their place among the best road racers in history.
So who will win more races in 2018? Both are fast, but Hutchinson definitely has more obstacles in front of him. After a gruesome crash in 2010, Hutchy has had to deal with a host of leg issues (including having the shift linkage on his bike switched to the other side) and is only now recovering from another crash in 2017. Dunlop is facing some niggling issues with the setup of his BMW, but that’s nothing compared to the road Hutchinson has had to walk. Finding chassis balance is a lot easier when you’re not dealing with 50mm of new leg, as Hutchinson is.
Dean Harrison is scary fast and wants to win the Senior
- Odds Dean Harrison gets a TT win: 7/13
- Odds Dean Harrison wins the Senior TT: 4/1
After all the talk and speculation, the first real look at how the TT will unfold comes in qualifying. Lap times don’t lie, and nobody stood out more on the time sheet than Dean Harrison.
Harrison racked up a couple of notable achievements. He became the second rider in history to complete the Mountain Course in under 17 minutes, posting a 133.496 mph lap, which places him in a category with only Michael Dunlop for company. That’s an outrageous, dominating pace, and if he can carry it into the race weeks he’ll be nigh-on unstoppable.
“Dean Harrison has proved throughout the week that he is up for it and his bike is running really well.”
— Malcolm MacDonald, ttwebsite.com
He also completed the (unofficial) fastest lap ever from a standing start, which is both very cool and subtly quite important. An underrated aspect of the TT is being able to ride a cold, heavy bike and Harrison is now has the all-time record in that category. Promising.
Peter Hickman is going to get a win
- Odds Peter Hickman wins a TT in 2018: 1/1
Peter Hickman acheived something very special and very underrated last year: he was on the podium of every race. The top step, however, continued to elude him and he enters this year dead set on getting his first TT win.
Hickman is more known as a short-track rider, but everything seems to be coming together on the road for him in 2018. He put down awesome pace in Thursday’s Superbike practice sessions, recording a 132.806 mph lap in practice, the fastest of the day. He also is riding the same bike as last year, the first time he’s had that advantage in his TT career. That the bike he’s riding is a proven winner is just another box ticked.
To summarise: Peter Hickman is a consistent performer on a proven bike, and he has displayed top-level pace in practice. It seems more than likely that Hickman’s TT dreams will soon come true.