Today we celebrate the belated birthday of seven-time 350cc and 500cc world title champion Giacomo Agostini, or “Ago” – an Italian rider with an unmatched gift for racing.
According to an article posted on TopGear, young Agostini was born June 16, 1942, in Brescia, Lombardy, where he started his passion for riding in secret.
His first title was won in 1963 when he snatched the Italian Hillclimb Championship riding a 175cc Moto Morini.
The successes continued into 1965, where Agostini became a member of the MV Agusta works team. The season saw Giacomo’s first ride for MV, finishing second only to his teammate and mentor, Mike Hailwood.
With Hailwood scooped up by Honda the following year, Ago became lead rider of MV Agusta – setting the young prodigy up beautifully for what was to be a whirlwind of wins.
By 1968, Giacomo was hitting uncontested streaks in both the 350cc and 500cc class titles.
Hit Ctrl + Paste for 1969.
And again for 1970.
It soon became obvious that the man breaking statistical averages across the world was honed in on his game – and perhaps a little crazy, as all riders should be.
MoreBikes has a snippet of Agostini recalling the state of the tracks back in his day:
“We ran because we had a lot of passion, a lot of desire to run. You could not choose, the tracks were what they had, the straw balls were something palliative.”
Agostini’s winning streak was broken only by the crumpling of his bike in the first lap of 1971’s Isle of Man TT. At this point, he had completely cleared the table, winning 26 titles in the 350cc class and 32 in the 500cc class – a mind-boggling 58 titles acquired, in a row, nonstop.
Ago had two short retirement periods in 1971 and 1972, with his official retirement from the motorcycle scene in 1977, leaving behind a burning hot legacy that still inspires riders today – and Top Gear was right when they said that Agostini’s statistics are insane.
Ago took the title of every race he finished, stamping five years’ worth of wins in the record books.
1966-1972 was when he won seven world titles in a row in the 500cc class, and that’s not counting the seven world titles for the 350cc class garnered 1968-1974.
If we were counting Ago’s win for Yamaha in 1975, that brings the number of world title wins to FIFTEEN.
All told, Giacomo Agostini’s 14-year career saw 223 races; he took the gold home 122 of the 159 times that he made the podium, with 117 inofficial ‘fastest lap’ records tucked under one capable arm, 6 of which are considered official pole positions.
Perhaps Agostini’s quote, translated in 1967 from the Vault, would best describe the Italian’s career and his drive to ride: “I want to do everything I can – while I can.”
For more information on Italians and motorcycles, head over to MotorBikeWriter.
A tribute motorcycle to Isle of Man TT racing legend Joey Dunlop who died in 2000 is the highlight of an online auction in his Northern Ireland homeland.
The limited-edition Honda SP-1 was commissioned by Honda dealer Tippetts Motors of Surbiton, Surrey, in the early 2000s to commemorate the Northern Irish racing legend’s record number of Isle of Man TT victories.
It has only three miles (4.8km) on the clock, is number nine of only 26 produced.
Joey Dunlop’s TT wins
At the Isle of Man TT meeting in 2000, Joey won the Formula 1 TT, the Ultra Lightweight TT (125cc) and the Lightweight TT (250cc), securing his third career hat-trick and setting a record 26 wins – an achievement that remains undefeated over two decades later.
The Joey Dunlop bike is part of an extensive collection being auctioned on behalf of the family of the late George Miller, a renowned Ardstraw-based motorcycle expert and enthusiast.
Accumulated over the past 40 years, the collection of more than 300 lots comes to market directly from the popular biker’s former business, George Miller Motorcycles, which was established in the late 1970s in the Tyrone village.
Royal wedding Bonnie
Another featured lot in the sale is a limited-edition 1981 Triumph Bonneville, one of only 125 UK models produced.
Dubbed the Royal Wedding edition, it was launched to commemorate the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Other Triumph motorcycles include two 500cc Daytona models and a Speed Twin.
The motorcycle which coined the term ‘superbike’, the Honda CB750F, will also go under the hammer.
Other models to be auctioned include a BSA A7 500cc twin, an Ariel NH350 Red Hunter, a 1951 Matchless G80 500cc, a Hercules W-2000, and Ehrlich 250 GP.
MUA Director Noel Lennon says, “We’re delighted to be working on behalf of the Miller family to manage the sale of this outstanding collection. George’s passion for all things motorcycles is renowned and that shows in the variety of bikes he acquired that carry with them important historical links, from the origins of the ‘superbike’ to rare and limited edition models.
“George Miller Motorcycles in Ardstraw attracted enthusiasts from the motorcycle community right across Northern Ireland and even further afield. We believe there will be great interest in the collection when it comes to auction.”
As well as motorcycles, a large selection of equipment, gear, parts, and other memorabilia will be auctioned.
If you haven’t been able to go for a ride for some time because of the current lockdown, you may consider motorcycle video games as a substitute.
It might not get you outdoors but they can help you to relax and have fun. The following are five of the top motorcycle-themed computer games you can play when you are confined at home or can’t ride for some reason.
MXGP Pro from developer Milestone srl was released in 2018 and offers a realistic and definitely challenging motocross racing experience. The game improved on the physics system of previous MX games in the series to make MXGP Pro as close to the real thing as possible. There is no doubt that the game is hard to play. There are tutorials that will help but it will take a lot of practice to get good. A nice feature of the game is that tracks become more difficult every lap as ruts form. Players will have to make slight adjustments to adapt. MXGP Pro has a nice selection of 17 tracks from around the world. You can choose from 4 game modes; Grand Prix, Time Attack, Career and Championship. Career mode offers over 1000 customizable parts for bikes for performance and appearance. MXGP Pro has a steep learning curve but is a great game for real fans of motocross.
Road Redemption was released in 2017 by developers EQ-Games and Pixel Dash Studios. Those looking for realistic motorbike simulations in a game will probably be disappointed. It’s a game that combines motorcycle riding and combat with the emphasis leaning more towards the fighting aspects of the game. In Road Redemption the player leads a motorcycle gang across the country fighting all the way. Players have an assortment of weapons they can use to battle other bikers including pool cues, wrenches, shovels and swords. Various guns and explosives can also be acquired. Road Redemption is relatively easy to play with only a few basic commands. As the game progresses you can earn money by completing various challenges such as winning races or committing robberies and assassinations. This money can be used to upgrade your character, your weapons and of course your bike. Road Redemption isn’t a classic motorbike simulation but can provide a lot of fun. You can find more motorcycle mayhem fun at King Billy pokies in Australia playing some of the best casino slot games such as their Bikers Gang slot.
TT Isle of Mann: Ride on the Edge 2
Isle of Man TT 2 game
TT Isle of Mann: Ride on the Edge 2 developed by Kylotonn was released this year and features outstanding graphics that accurately replicate the entire 37.73 mile Snaefell Mountain Course. In career mode players advance through a race calendar until you reach the main race. You receive cash for placing well which can be used to upgrade parts. Most of the tracks are fictionally until you reach the main race. Unlike many games TT Isle of Mann 2 also has outstanding audio with realistic wind noise that alters as you pass different objects. The physics of the game are very realistic and there is very little room for error. To be clear this game is challenging and difficult. There is actually an achievement for falling 50 times and is one of the first you will unlock. TT Isle of Mann: Ride on the Edge 2 definitely keeps players on the edge of their seat and gets the adrenaline pumping. This is a must play game for those who truly enjoy realistic simulations.
Trials Rising released in 2019 comes from developers RedLynx and Ubisoft Kyiv and is the latest game in the Trials series. It features various obstacle courses at different locations around the world in settings like Hollywood, the Eiffel Tower and Mount Everest. Although the physics of the bikes in Trials Rising is realistic the situations riders find themselves in are not which adds to the fun. There are over 100 different levels in Trials Rising. The game has an excellent tutorial that teaches you the tricks and techniques you will need to advance in the game. As with many motorcycle games players can customise their bikes as well as the riders outfit. Players also have the opportunity to create their own custom obstacle courses and share them with other players. An additional feature included in the game is the Tandem bike which can be played in local mode. Two players control the bike with each having responsibility for a portion of the motorcycles functions. Trials Rising is a lot of fun and will provides hours of entertainment.
Ride 3 was developed by Milestone srl and released in 2018. It is the third title in the Ride series. This iteration of the game has a great selection of bikes players can choose from. There are 230 bikes split between 6 different classes; Maxienduro, Naked, Racing, Supermoto, Supercustom and Sport. Each class has its own handling and performance characteristics so players will have to adjust their riding style when changing classes. There are plenty of customization options including aftermarket parts as well as the ability to upgrade components such as the engine and gearbox. Customisation isn’t limited to bikes as you can change your rider outfits as well. There are 30 different locations in Ride 3 with more than 50 different track variations. The game has 3 different physics modes to adjust parameters such as traction control. Ride 3 has a career mode where players compete over a series of events as well as “quick race” and “time attack” modes. If you make a mistake during a race there is an optional rewind feature that allows you to undo it. Ride 3 offers plenty of variety and will keep you engaged and entertained for quite awhile.
The first two rounds of the MotoGP in Qatar and Thailand have been abandoned and now the third round in Austin, Texas, on 3-5 April 2020 is under threat as the city moves to prevent crowds of more than 2500.
World Superbikes also cancelled their first round this weekend in Qatar and even the Isle of Man TT, from 30 May to 12 June, could be under threat.
Some of these events may still go ahead for TV only, with no on-site crowds as F1 is considering.
Meanwhile, the Daytona Bike Week festivities are going ahead in Florida as planned.
The spreading contagion in Italy — now the worst affected country outside China — also looks likely to affect production of Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and MV Agusta motorcycles and many motorcycle components.
Their factories are near Milan which is an epicentre of the virus in the Lombardi region which is in virtual shutdown.
There are also factories in the region that make automotive components.
Ducati is in Bologna which is just outside the northern contagion regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
Ducati, Moto Guzzi and Vespa have already closed their museum and factory tours.
While the affects of these shutdowns won’t be felt here for some time, we expect there could be some shortage of parts in coming months.
But that doesn’t mean you panic and start clearing the shelves of oil filters!
Qatar has now enforced a two-week quarantine on direct flights from Italy.
That should also affect the World Superikes which is due to be staged there next weekend (13-15 March 2020).
However, there is no announcement yet about that event.
How far the MotoGP and World Superbikes schedule will be affected is anyone’s guess.
The North and South American MotoGP rounds in April may go aead because they do not have travel bans … yet.
But then the MotoGP and WSBK return to Europe where talk of travel bans is growing.
Even the Isle of Man has issued a statement about its TT events from 30 May to 12 June.
Isle of Mann TT
“The Isle of Man Government is carefully monitoring the Island’s position regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) with a cross-government working group established to regularly review the changing situation,” organisers say.
“While the threat to the public in the Isle of Man remains low, a number of future contingency scenarios are being considered. This is usual practice and is in line with the WHO advice for preparations in case of a pandemic.
“The risk is low and preparations for this year’s TT remain on schedule. Work will continue as usual in order to ensure another successful TT.
“The Organisers, in partnership with the Department for Enterprise and the Isle of Man Government and in line with experts in the UK, will continue to monitor the situation.”
If we’re stuck at home with this virus there won’t even be anything decent to watch on TV!
Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM) has confirmed 19-times TT winner Michael Dunlop will race one of the team’s VisionTrack Ducatis at the Isle of Man TT Races this year, with the 30-year-old from Ballymoney in County Antrim signing a deal to race a factory-supported VisionTrack Ducati V4 R in both the Superbike and Senior races at this year’s festival.
Dunlop didn’t enjoy the best of TTs in 2019, but despite finishing in the top six in the Superbike, Senior, Superstock and both Supersport events, he did win the Lightweight TT to add to his tally as the third most successful rider around the 37.73-mile course.
Michael Dunlop on the VisionTrack Ducati in testing
He will race his own machines in the Supersport and Superstock events but seven times BSB champions PBM will field the Ulsterman in the two main races as they look to add to their illustrious TT history.
The last time the Penrith-based team contested the Isle of Man TT Races was in 2015 when Ian Hutchinson scored a second in the Superbike TT and a third in the Senior TT as well as winning the Superstock TT race, all aboard PBM Kawasakis, to celebrate the team’s first major foray onto the Isle of Man for 12 years.
That success came after PBM previously contested the event with Ducati in 2003 when John McGuinness took second in the TT Formula 1 race and third in the Senior TT riding the MonsterMob-sponsored bikes.
Prior to that, Joey Dunlop – Michael’s uncle – famously won his last big bike TT for Paul Bird when he took victory in the 2000 TT Formula 1 race onboard a Demon Vimto Honda SP1, just a month before he was tragically killed in a race in Estonia.
PBM and Michael have worked together before when they prepared a Kawasaki ZX-10R for him to win the 2011 Superstock TT. Ducati’s current quickest lap at the TT is 128.717mph by Michael Rutter in 2011.
Michael, who rode the machine for the first time at the official BSB test in Jerez, will also race the PBM-prepared VisionTrack Ducati at the 2020 International North West 200 in Northern Ireland during the week commencing Monday 11th May.
Meanwhile, regular Bennetts BSB riders Josh Brookes and Christian Iddon are continuing their Spanish pre-season schedule at Jerez today and tomorrow. The VisionTrack Ducati pairing were at the cutting edge of last week’s tests at Monteblanco, setting first and second fastest times on day one before ending day two with Australian Brookes second fastest and new signing Iddon in eighth.
Aussie movie star, passionate motorcycle rider and motoring fan Eric Bana will play Mike “The Bike” Hailwood in a movie based on the legendary racer’s life.
Bana will also write and direct the film about the legendary racer who retired from racing bikes in 1967 after 12 Isle of Man TT victories and returned to take back his crown in 1978 on a Ducati 900SS.
We would rather be riding than sitting in front of a computer game (even when it’s raining), but the upcoming Isle of Man TT 2 looks interesting with a host of classic motorcycles being added.
The game is due on Xbox One, PS4, and PC in March 2020 and later on in the year for Nintendo Switch.
If you pre-order, you will receive a 1978 Mike Hailwood Ducati 900 as a bonus motorcycle.
Check out this two-part video.
The first half shows Davey Todd on the BMW S1000RR he rode last year and the second half features Mike the Bike on the Ducati 900.
It’s obviously not as fast, but oh the sound!
In fact, the sound is one of the best things about the game.
No game that we have ever seen comes close to the reality and dynamics of riding.
But the sound sure can. So hook up to a good amp and speakers and turn the volume up to 11.
While the Hailwood bike is a bonus for those who order early, there are several other classic bikes in the game.
They include the MV Augusta 500, Norton NRS 588, Suzuki XR69, and Yamaha TZ 750.
Here is the official trailer video for the game.
It will be interesting to see if the Norton V4 RR that featured in the first game returns as the company has gone into administration amid sordid fraud allegations and will obviously not be at this year’s TT.
Dead flies are still plastered to the front of Dean Harrison’s historic Senior winning Kawasaki. The rear Metzeler slick shows evidence of his celebratory burnout, with melted race rubber hangs from the rear undertray.
Senior TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
Chain lube is splattered over the factory swing-arm – even the Akrapovic logo, lost somewhere out there on the TT course, is still missing from the exhaust.
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR Silicone Engineering
This very special Silicone Engineering ZX-10RR gave Kawasaki their first Senior TT win since Mick Grant in 1975, and crossed the finish line on Glencrutchery Road less than 24 hours before I got to throw a leg over the machine.
2019 Senior TT Results 1. Dean Harrison / Kawasaki 2. Peter Hickman / BMW +53.062 3.. Conor Cummins / Honda +58.879
The grips, the levers – everything – are as Dean left them. After my ride the bike headed into private storage to never be ridden again; its factory engine silenced forever as its proud owner puts it on display at home.
Bit of force gets put through these and the pegs to pilot this beast around the Isle of Man
This is one special bike
For those of you who thought Harrison’s TT winning bike was back racing in the British Superbike Championship at the next round, let me assure you it wasn’t. It’s true, many TT teams now run modified BSB bikes on the roads, but Dean’s ‘official’ Kawasaki is very different. This is a very special one-off.
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
The wheels are the same as those used in BSB, but that is really where any similarity ends. The discs are a different spec’ and the brake calipers are changed too. Dean’s BSB bikes use a four-pot Brembo set up while the TT bike uses Nissin six-piston calipers. The Brembo brakes have more instant bite while the TT brakes are more consistent.
Dean Harrison – 2019 Senior TT winner
You’re never really punishing the brakes around the TT – you don’t need massive initial short-circuit bite – and Dean prefers the Nissin six-piston set up at the TT (although the rear thumb Nissin brake is similar to his BSB bike’s set-up).
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
Let’s talk suspension
The Öhlins forks are similar, but the BSB ZX-10RR makes full use of the latest Öhlins 2530 while the TT bike runs the older 2525 spec’ from 2018. With so little set-up time due to the bad weather in practice week at the 2019 TT the team didn’t get the opportunity to test new fork options, so ran the same forks as 2018.
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
The main difference is the flex between the new and old forks, and Dean preferred the older set-up. The top yoke is changed to accommodate the smaller-diameter forks. The top yoke is also stiffer on the TT bike, with fewer cutaway sections.
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
The Silicone team isn’t commercially linked to any products: everything they use, they buy. If an item doesn’t work, they won’t use it. And while the team runs an Öhlins unit to complement the front whne racing in BSB, Dean prefers a Maxton rear shock on the roads.
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR uses a Maxton shock
In fact, if Dean wanted pink grips to make him faster, Silicone Engineering would buy him pink grips. Hard-centred TT tyres are, of course, supplied by Metzeler (it’s Pirelli in BSB), which again Dean is happy with.
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
Some components of the Senior TT-winning bike are completely bespoke. The swing-arm, for example, is the team’s own and the final version of six designs, which the team admit was excessively expensive to produce. Dean arrived at the TT with three different iterations, each one tweakable to increase or reduce flex and stiffness.
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
This is done by adding or removing bolts within the structure of the arm. Version one, with no bolts, has lots of flex – then it’s version one with bolts, then version two without bolts, then version two with bolts… and so on, with each swing-arm version (with and without bolts) increasing or decreasing stiffness by around 10 per cent.
Essentially Dean has three different arms to choose from with each one having two variants. During a BSB weekend, Dean will normally use swing-arm number two with bolts, but at the TT it’s swing-arm one, as he prefers more flex.
As someone who has raced the TT I find it hard to believe Dean can feel the difference in 10 per cent more flex when lapping the TT at a 134 mph average, but as crew chief Jonny Bagnall explains, “Yes, he’ll notice the difference straight away. He’ll notice how much the bike slides, which I know sounds ridiculous around the TT, but Dean slides the bike. He prefers the bike to slide progressively, and we can help with that by increasing or reducing the flex in the swingarm. What he doesn’t want is the bike to snap out of line; he wants it to slide gracefully.”
Dean Harrison on his way to winning the 2019 Senior TT
Again, the frame is different from that of a BSB ZX-10RR. The road frame has more flex and isn’t braced heavily like the short circuit bike. In fact, the frame is showroom spec, the same as an everyday road bike.
Standard frame used on the Senior TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
New engine, more power
Kawasaki introduced a new engine last year with finger-followers on the valves, and lighter titanium rods, which not only reduced engine inertia but also allowed the stock engine to rev 500 rpm higher. The new engine developments allowed the team to find even more bhp, with a significant 10 hp gain in the mid-range.
Dean liked the old engine and compared it to a two-stroke – ‘You’ve got to keep it revving’, he said – but now loves the huge increase in mid-range torque.
The team is reluctant to quote an actual power figure, but you’re looking at a true 225 hp at the back wheel. And that significant increase in torque and power created handling issues the team had to work around.
2019 Senior TT winning ZX-10RR Kawasaki
The TT engines are Kawasaki factory and supplied by Kawasaki’s World Superbike engine builder, Akira, whereas the BSB engine is developed by the team using factory kit parts. The engines go from Kawasaki to Akira and then are delivered to the team run in and ready to go – it’s just a case of bolting the special engine in.
The oil has to be changed every 250 km and the filter every 500 km. And yes, those of you who are good at maths will have worked out that the six-lap Senior TT was more than 250 km.
Despite the lack of label, the exhaust is made by Akrapovic and Motec controls the electronics and fuelling, the same as BSB. Teams at the TT have the option to run a kit ECU, which would allow rider aids, but Dean and the team choose BSB spec’ electronics, which means Dean alone controls the 225 hp.
No traction control, just right hand control…
Again, the bodywork looks the same as any other race bike in BSB, but the top section is reinforced to make it stronger as you’re going that much fast for so much longer – and it stops flex. Surprisingly the screen is the same as BSB because Dean doesn’t use a large screen with add-ons like the majority of TT riders.
The fuel tanks, however, are completely different to both the BSB bike’s 22-litre tank and the standard road bike’s 17-litre tank. The TT bikes have a hand-made 24-litre tank that extends under the seat to keep the weight low and differs from those run by the other Kawasaki teams.
Adam Child on the Senior TT winning ZX-10RR Kawasaki
The bars and levers are the same as Dean’s BSB bike. Dean had been racing BSB in the summer to get ‘up-to-speed’ and didn’t want to get used to two bikes; therefore the bar position is similar on both bikes. The team worked countless hours on seat-position.
Their rider has been with the team for a few years and in 2018 they spent a huge amount of time getting Dean comfortable with the bike. The seat height is the same as the standard road-going ZX-10RR, even with the fuel tank running underneath the seat.
Little touches make the TT bike unique. The team has designed a captive spindle on the rear wheel so you can’t remove the entire spindle and place it on the ground; it doesn’t come fully out when you remove the rear wheel. Remember the Senior is over six-laps, which means two rear wheel changes in under 40-seconds per stop.
Trev took this photo of Dean Harrison after he won the 2019 Senior TT
The sub-frame is easily removable, all the electronics are upfront with the only wire going to the rear being for the mandatory rain light. This allows quick easy access.
Everything is lock-wired, the team will use a few metres of lock-wire on each bike build. Check out some of the detail images if you need convincing. Steering damper, calipers, exhaust bracket are all secured with meticulous and painstaking lock-wiring.
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
Close to running out of fuel!
Bob Grey, the team’s Data Technician, designed the switchgear, dash surround, rear rain light, and a few other items. Plastic printing was used and money was saved if needed, “The actual buttons are £3.75 plus VAT and on the TT bike we only need minimal buttons – a pit-lane limiter and a map switch – and on the right bar an on and off switch. We’ve also added a rain light button. The rain light is the blue button (water is blue), black is for the map switch, and orange is the pit lane limiter.
“We don’t show Dean a board and tell him to change the map. In practice we’ll change the mapping; if Dean thinks the mapping is shit, he can press the map button and it will go back to the previous map. The fuel map in the bike at the moment is the saving-fuel map.”
TT winning Kawasaki ZX-10RR
One of the problems the team encountered at the 2018 TT, especially in the first Superbike race on day one, was fuel starvation on the end of laps two and four – before the fuel stops. Dean was complaining the bike was surging. Bob and the team analysed the data and could see the fuel pressure dropping for a fraction of a second before the surging as the fuel tank levels depleted.
Bob explains the predicament the team was in the night before the senior, “We were up to the very early hours working out fuel consumption and looked at fuelling strategies. I could lean the motor, to save fuel, but then we could go too lean and the engine would over-heat and melt. But if I’d left the fuelling alone we would have most likely run out of fuel. So, I had to use some calculations and guesswork and went big.
“There was a little bit of surging at the end of lap two as Dean came into the pits, but we’d saved enough fuel to stop the surging in other places. Thankfully the bike ran fine. The link pipe turned purple, it must have been running hot, but we didn’t have any issues. When Dean noticed he had a big lead from his pit-board he maturely rolled off a little which also helped with fuel consumption.”
2019 Senior TT Results 1. Dean Harrison 2. Peter Hickman +53.062 3. Conor Cummins +58.879
Riding Dean Harrison’s Senior Kawasaki ZX-10RR
Let’s be honest, I’m not going to pretend I can feel the flex in the chassis. Nor did I push the handling limits, and I didn’t feel the used Metzeler slide – despite racing the TT several times I don’t have that level of skill.
I just wanted to get a flavour of the historic TT winning bike, which thankfully the team agreed to the morning after the TT. With hangovers still pounding from the previous night’s celebrations, we headed to out – and forgot the tyre warmers.
Adam Child on the Senior TT winning ZX-10RR Kawasaki
The TT winning bike starts on the button, but to ease the Nova gearbox, Jonny gives me a push to get everything moving before I slotted it into gear. Dean uses a conventional road shift, not a race shift, so it’s unusually down for first gear. The clutch feels heavy and the power is snatchy and aggressive low down. But I’m guessing Dean only lets the rev drop below 5000 rpm three times a lap, if that.
I’m obviously aware I’m on cold Metzeler slicks which have been abused around the TT and during a burn-out in the paddock. In the back of my mind, I know the bike is irreplaceable, and despite the fact that Dean is a good mate, he isn’t going to be too happy if I launch it.
Dean Harrison greeted by his family in Parc Ferme after taking victory in the 2019 Senior TT
As you’d expect, it’s quick, but it feels raw. The whole bike feels alive, it’s a 225 hp animal without any rider aids. I’ve ridden many TT-winning bikes, and they feel a little timid, but the Kawasaki doesn’t. The thought of riding this flat out at the TT scares me to death. And Dean was power sliding the beast and wrestling it around in fifth and sixth gear – he’s got balls.
The ride isn’t harsh; it’s not a plank of wood with a fast engine, and as Dean explained the brakes are progressive, dare I say user-friendly. The thumb back brake has a nice, smooth, fluid action and doesn’t require a huge input, unlike other thumb brakes I’ve used in the past. Alarmingly my foot does keep reaching for the conventional back brake pedal, which isn’t there – don’t think I’ll be trying any wheelies.
Adam Child on the Senior TT winning ZX-10RR Kawasaki
I love the simplicity of Dean’s bike and minimal buttons to minimise confusion. With its standard screen, simple dash with large digital rev counter there’s no glitz and glamour – it was built to do the job of winning the TT, and that’s it. Like a kit-car, it was designed for speed, not glamour or comfort, despite the face Dean has to ride flat out for close to two hours.
The bars are wide, and it feels like a big bike (with a full 24-litres of fuel she must have been a handful). The steering isn’t light, either, and make no mistake the big Kwaka took some riding. However, Dean is adamant it wasn’t that much of a handful, and it certainly looked like he was dancing with the ZX-10RR for most of the time. Simply having fun.
Adam Child on the Senior TT winning ZX-10RR Kawasaki
After a short ride, I was happy to give it back in one piece. It’s never nice riding a mate’s bike, especially one that happens to be priceless and has just won the TT. I’d like to say I’d love to ride it in anger, but I don’t think I would, especially not on the road. This is one scary and raw bike I’ll happily give back.
Adam Child was very happy to get the bike back in one piece
How the 2019 Senior race was won
Dean Harrison claimed his first senior win after Peter Hickman’s Smiths BMW began to overheat on lap five. Peter had a lead of nearly 20 seconds, but it was clear Peter had a problem as he left the second pit-stop. Down Sulby Straight Peter was down to 159 mph, compared to Dean at 191 mph.
By Ramsey Dean had an eight-second lead, with Conor 36-seconds back in third. On the last lap, it was clear Hickman had an ongoing issue again only posting 165 mph through the speed trap, and Dean continued to pull out a lead to more than 40-seconds.
On the run over the mountain, as Hickman’s problems continued, it looked like Conor on the Padgetts Honda may snatch the second spot, but Hickman just held on to second position, eventually finishing, 53-seconds behind Dean and just five seconds ahead of Conor. Michael Dunlop rounded off the top four.
The front of the Silicone Engineering Kawasaki after almost two hours of racing at the Senior TT
Dean was clearly overjoyed to take his first big bike win, “To finish first, you first must finish and the bike never missed a beat. I can’t believe it. I’m happy it’s a proper six-lap Senior Superbike win, I’m so happy for the team. The fans and the marshals were all waving, it’s amazing. I got a board which said P1 plus 30 so I knew Peter had a problem. I’m so going to celebrate tonight, you don’t want to know how I’m going to celebrate, it’s going to be big.”
Dean Harrison – Senior TT Winner – 2019
Peter Hickman sharing of his issues, “I got off to good start and I knew the first lap was 16-min as I came up on the dash. But as I came away from the pitstop the bike was overheating and when the bike went over 11,000rpm it was pissing water out. I couldn’t go past 11,000, so I just short-shifted everywhere, the last few laps seemed to take forever. It’s a problem we’ve had on the Superbike, but not on the Superstock, and we have some amazing people in the Smiths racing but we don’t know why.”
Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison in Parc Ferme – Senior TT 2019
Peter Hickman to return to Isle of Man on Norton Superlight
It has been confirmed that Louth-based Peter Hickman will return to the Isle of Man TT races in 2020, racing the Norton Superlight in the Bennetts Lightweight Race, with the bike this time prepared and run by his own Smiths Racing Team.
The five-time TT Race winner joined John McGuinness and Davey Todd for a three-pronged assault with the new 650cc Norton Superlight in 2019 but was only able to complete two qualifying laps ahead of the shortened two lap race. While his Norton teammates both retired from the race, Hickman came home in a strong eighth position and posted a fastest lap at an impressive average speed of 120.260mph.
The decision for the bike to be prepared and run by the Smiths Racing team in 2020 allows the Norton factory to focus solely on increasing production of their road bikes.
Development of the Superlight race bike moves to Smiths Racing, but the team are no strangers to producing a race winning machine in a short space of time after taking victories in the 2019 RST Superbike and RL360 Superstock TT Races despite late delivery and little testing with the new BMW S 1000 RR.
The Lightweight Race has become a fiercely competitive class in recent years and the 32-year old is clear in his objectives.
“It handles really well which is especially important with the lightweight bikes. They don’t have much horsepower so they need to be able to turn properly and the bike did that immediately. Of course, there are things we need to change. It’s really heavy – heavier than my superbike – because it’s still a road bike and a lot has to be done to make it lighter. I think the podium is realistic and the win would be the cherry on top. I don’t go into anything thinking that we can hopefully finish sixth! The reason we’re doing this is because I feel the bike has potential. If I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Success for Hickman and the Norton Superlight would undoubtedly hold extra significance for the Lincolnshire man, after his father Dave Hickman played a key part in the success of the JPS Norton team and the iconic rotary-engined bikes of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Now with bikes for six different races at the 2020 Isle of Man TT Races, could Hickman be the first man in TT history to claim six TT victories in a single week? It’s not impossible!