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TT 2022: McGuinness' 'head frazzled' after first laps back

He may be one of the most experienced riders in the field, but the butterflies were still there for John McGuinness on the opening night of practice at the Isle of Man TT Races and the shock factor as big for him as it was for anyone.

But it’s been a case of so far so good for the Honda Racing rider with a lap of 127.771mph currently putting him fifth quickest on the early Superbike leaderboard. Having missed the 2017 and 2018 events due to injury and then suffered a disastrous 2019 meeting, that’s his quickest lap since the 2016 Senior.

“The first night was off the chart and the whole world was just whizzing by,” he told bikesportnews.com on Tuesday morning. “Finding reference points and braking points seemed loads more difficult – I tipped in too early at Handley’s and again at the Bungalow – and while some bits of the track felt the same others didn’t. It’s smoother in places and rougher in others but it’s always going to be a challenging racetrack.”


“We were all in the same boat but the speed element on Sunday afternoon was just ‘woah’ and it was like being a rabbit in the headlights! It was nice and steady for everyone though and I got six laps in across the three bikes so it was a solid start.”

“At the same time, my head was frazzled when I got back to the motorhome as it was hard work. The body was in tatters. You’re not breathing like you should, you’re gritting your teeth, holding on tight and waking up muscles that haven’t been used for a while. It just takes a bit of time to get back into the groove.”

Like the rest of the field, the Morecambe man has increased his speed lap on lap and already has nine full laps under his belt. He’s equally enjoying life back with Honda at the TT.

“I can’t complain, everything’s going as per the programme and we’re chipping away with the speeds going up nice and steady. The bikes are good, the team’s positive and I’ll just do what I do and ride my motorbike.”

“The Superbikes are very rigid and only work in a small window so it’s about familiarisation and confidence in the early part of the week to get yourself into a position to push the bike into that window. I’m still getting comfortable with the bike so we’ve only done little changes to the gearing and wheelbase so far.”

As well as the Honda Racing Superbike and Superstock machines, McGuinness is also riding the SMT Racing/Blue Earth Construction Honda in the two Supersport races with SMT’s Robin Croft back in the paddock for the first time since 2017.

“It’s good to have Robin and another team back in the paddock,” he said. “The little bike felt sweet on the first night and it’s just a bunch of mates going racing. It’s been quite difficult pulling everything together and there’s always something to do, some big, some small, some silly and my respect for all the team bosses and crew chiefs out there has gone up massively.”

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