While team owners and riders were absorbing the most detailed and revolutionary set of proposals which will transform the TT as we now know it, it was other ideas exposed in the Isle of Man Examiner which caused ripples of controversy under the headline “Manx Grand Prix and Classic TT to be shortened to nine-day event?”
The TT proposals, headed “Safety Management System” (SMS), are largely to reduce the risks of racing around the 37.73 mile Mountain Circuit but also to convert what fans believe is the greatest race in the world into a truly global event by live streaming with revenue from pay tv.
It is the brainchild of race boss Paul Phillips and a small but dedicated team aided by Manxman and ex-Tornado pilot Nigel Crennell and another Manxman Doctor Gareth Davies, fresh from leading the London Air Ambulance Service in saving lives by helicopter.
But future proofing the TT, which also means giving it greater exposure and entertainment value to an audience from outside the UK, does not come without cost. And while the TT is the biggest tourist draw and a huge source of revenue, that has not been happening in the last two years. And, coupled the government being involved in with long term construction projects, costing many millions, means that belts have to be tightened elsewhere.
Hence a review of the Manx GP and the Classic TT, one possessing great sentimental value having first been run in 1923, and the other on which great hopes were pinned but never quite delivered. The setup costs are not far short of the TT but the money brought onto the island much less.
The past two years of inactivity have given the IoM Government’s Ministry for Enterprise time to focus on the TT and the committee of the Manx Motor Cycle Club to hope for the best for their much loved Manx GP but fear the worst. Many knew that change was inevitable with too many races and too many riders and some blaming the introduction of the Classic.
Some have accepted that the Manx does not have the draw of sixty years ago, change is necessary and solution had to be found with the Isle of Government, who fund the event, giving an undertaking that there will be racing in August.
No detail has yet been announced although it is understood that decisions have been agreed and it will no longer be spread over two weeks. The suggested first practice date is Sunday Aug 21 and racing confined to the following weekend with the conclusion on Bank Holiday Monday, Aug 29, with the Senior Manx GP, limited to 600cc, and a Superbike Classic TT.
There will be no designated race for newcomers. although a certain number will be accepted in other races,and, like regulations covering the TT, there will be fewer riders per race. These are tight schedules and it is to be hoped that account has been taken of the auld enemy - the weather!
.Proposals for the TT, covered earlier in the week, concentrate heavily on safety - a far cry from when the slogan was “the throttle works both ways , putting all responsibility on the rider - and from more recent times when pleased to be recognised as an “extreme” sport. But clearly, greater control of the signalling system and communication with well trained marshalls plus helicopters and attendees who can treat injured riders on the spot, has to be applauded.
Prevention is better than cure but it is interesting that no mention of insurance is made in the grand plan and it should be a necessary element, particularly in road racing, requiring a minimum level of cover to protect riders and give their families security without having to battle with insurance companies or lawyers. It is amazing how much help that wonderful charity - The TT Riders Association - give to riders and their families who have suffered from inadequate cover.
ACU Events, an offshoot of the ACU, is being given more responsibility as Race Organiser with a principal objective of track safety and they have also taken over that role, on the instruction of the Government, for the Southern 100 races as from 2023.
Coping with the speed of change is absolutely essential not only for success but survival.But it is not always welcome which is why clarity of communication is critical on the issues of:
1) What are we doing?
2) Why are we doing it?
3) And the most difficult one… How are we doing it?
But good start has been made.