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Rider and Pundit Reflections

Predictably the media outlets that have no interest in the TT as a sport jumped on the tragic events of this year’s TT. The BBC covered the number of fatalities on both the local and national news, the exploits of Peter Hickman, Michael Dunlop and the Birchalls weren’t worth a mention!

The BBC’s Roger Johnson interviewed Steve Plater on Sunday morning’ Breakfast Show:  ‘it was the "toughest course in the world without doubt", but that was "part of the attraction" for those competing and watching. He went on to say that a new safety management system introduced in 2022 was "working very hard behind the scenes" at the event.  "All of the competitors know the risk as well, and moving forward they will be fully aware of the new safety situation."

Also speaking to BBC Breakfast, former motor racing pundit Liam Beckett said he had developed a "love-hate" relationship with the sport after seeing friends, including Robert and William Dunlop, killed while taking part in road racing events.

He said while "any death in sport, even one is deeply regrettable", the statistics at the TT were "absolutely shocking". "To have five like we have had in the past fortnight - it's just totally unacceptable. I know the organisers try so hard to make it safer but they never will," he said. "I think that plays a part in how the riders get the thrill and buzz out of competing." Reflecting on the fatalities in the three-wheel class, Beckett said it was "maybe time to call a halt to sidecar racing" at the TT, as they were "too unstable".

Speaking after taking victory in Saturday's rescheduled Senior TT race, outright lap record holder Peter Hickman said: "Obviously my thoughts are with everybody who's not able to go home this week. "It's a tough sport for that - we've had a really hard week. There's massive ups and downs with this thing, we all know that. "We all absolutely love it for all the right and wrong reasons, whichever way you want to look at it. We all know what we're doing here. A lot of people don't understand this."

Joey Thompson said after the Senior TT that he struggled with pace but enjoyed riding around the ‘Greatest Circuit of All Time’.


Nathan Harrison said: "To be a TT rider is what I've always wanted to be, it's what I've always wanted to do in my life, and I can now call myself a TT racer."


The busiest rider of the week, Michael Russell, who not only competed in all of the solo races and the Sidecar TT but also at the Pre TT Classic said: there had been "tragic accidents", adding: "Everyone enters the races with the knowledge of this happening... it's a risk that we all take." 


FHO Racing Team Principal Faye Ho reflected: “For all the joy road racing offers, we can never forget nor lose sight of the dangers it also brings, something we have tragically been reminded of too many times over the last two weeks.


Callum Crowe, reflecting on the draw of the Isle of Man TT said: "I think it's the worst drug you can ever take. There's no other feeling like it I don't think, I've never come across a feeling like it in my life. "The adrenalin you get out of it, and when you go down Glencrutchery Road and you cross that start line. "It's very emotional when you finish a round here, first, second, 10th, last, it doesn't matter - you still completed the races."

Ex sidecar racer Dan Clarke, whose career was ended by a crash explained: ‘There isn’t anyone in the paddock who doesn’t feel the pain when a tragic incident happens and we all pull together to help in any way we can. None of us are blind to the risks and I would be on the grid tomorrow if I possibly could.’ 


Ex racer Paul Owen said on his Facebook page: Yes it's dangerous but It's in a controlled environment the best it can be. and all the riders know the risks as everyone is focused on the job in hand. In the 30 years I have raced I have always felt very safe, even at high speeds.

But I feel less safe driving to work at 60mph with someone driving towards me at 60mph. Are they actually in control as they pass by only 2 foot away? Racing is always going to happen, the same as fishing, canoeing, rock climbing, boxing etc.

And as for 5 of my fellow competitors, I know just before they were taken that they would have had a big grin on their faces and lived life to the max. I know this might sound strange but I don't feel sorry for them as I know the enjoyment they were having. But I do for their loved ones left behind.


The Sunday Telegraph published an article this Sunday entitled ‘Why bereaved families are rejecting calls to ban the TT’ They spoke to and quoted the relatives of the late Mark Purslow, Daley Mathison, Dan Kneen and Rob Vine, none of whom condemned the TT. 


Mark Purslow’s sister Hanna said ‘Mark would have wanted people to know that he loved the race. He told us that, if he were to die, that would be the way he wanted to go, doing something he loved. His passion for the race was undeniable. She went on to say ‘ the racing community knows the risks, they know what they are doing but they love it. That is why they carry on racing when riders die. They ride for the racing community that has gone before them.


Of course this is very hard to understand but Mark would want riders to continue and ride on for him. It’s easy to blame the race, the course or the road for reasons why it should stop; however, Mark would not have wanted that. The racing community is such a strong, tight knit group, they honestly ride and die together. I think bereaved families also feel, if the races continue, the riders always live on in some way.


I think Hanna and Peter Hickman have  hit the nail on the head when they said that people outside the road racing community just do not understand. The people who don’t get it then attack it because of their lack of comprehension. It is a fantastic sport but it can be so cruel when it goes wrong.



The ill fated Mark Purslow at Creg-ny-Baa on the Tuesday evening of qualifying.



Mike Hammonds