MORE RACING COMING FOR 2023!
The most far-reaching set of changes in recent memory is set to come into effect at the 2023 Isle of Man TT Races with the introduction of an expanded race programme that promises to deliver real value for money for fans and competitors alike. The new festival format is also designed to create further opportunities for fans to visit the world’s most famous road race by alleviating the pressures on the Island’s infrastructure and better aligning travel and accommodation options.
Whilst TT fans always have an eye on travel options, the headline news is undoubtedly the expanded race programme, which sees the number of race days increase from four to six, and the number of races increase from eight to ten. The 2023 race programme is also set to increase from seven days to eight, with three sets of back-to-back race days split now by just two rest days. As well as injecting a large dose of extra energy into what is already a thrilling week, it is a schedule that guarantees more return, with the majority of fans getting to enjoy more TT racing when comparing the schedule to the current iteration.
THE TEN-RACE PROGRAMME
2023’s ten-race programme sees the introduction of a second race for Superstocks and a second race for Supertwins, not only ensuring all five classes have parity with two races each, but delivering real value for money for teams and competitors who, of course, now gain more track time and a second chance of glory in those classes.
To accommodate the newly expanded race schedule, the TT will surprisingly start a day later than is usual, beginning on the Bank Holiday Monday (UK) and featuring not one, but two, separate qualifying sessions – one in the afternoon and one in the evening. The remaining qualifying sessions will then run as expected, utilising the evenings until competitors arrive at Friday’s lengthier afternoon session (introduced for 2022), which will remain part of the schedule moving forward.
It is when competitors reach the first weekend of racing that things start to look really different, with the incredibly popular middle weekend now boasting three races instead of just two. Starting with a tantalising double-header of Supersport and Sidecar, fans then only have to wait 24 hours before the first of the ‘six-lappers’, with the headline-grabbing Superbike TT moving to a Sunday in line with many global events.
Traditionally, Monday sees the first tranche of visitors heading home to work or family, so it is here that we now see the first of two rest days. However, for visiting fans going deeper into the week, there is only a short hiatus before the next set of back-to-back race days – this time stacked with four races.
Tuesday will host the first races for the Superstock and Supertwin classes, while there’s more Supersport action just 24 hours later - again scheduled alongside the Sidecars. With the two Sidecar races moving closer to each other on the calendar, superfans of that class will more easily be able to catch both races - while the teams and competitors in the sidecar paddock will also then be free to travel home.
Now deep into race week – and with renewed capacity – it is hoped and expected that the Island will better accommodate a greater number of fans for what is set to be a scintillating climax to the festival. That big finish is set in motion with a new-look end to race week – one that follows Thursday’s rest day.
With the Island’s popular TT bank holiday remaining in place, Friday will now play host to the Superstock and Supertwin machines, with teams and riders in those classes gaining a second race in 2023. But the big one – the Senior TT – moves to a Saturday, creating another set of back-to-back race-days and, for the first time, a second long-weekend for TT fans to choose or target.
A RIDER’S EYE VIEW
With more race days and more races to look forward to, one group most affected by the evolution of the schedule will of course be the competitors. Having the opportunity to discuss the changes with organisers beforehand, Peter Hickman – the fastest man in TT history – is enthusiastic about the new format:
‘After two years off, more TT racing is the result we all wanted and needed. It’s great that we’ll get the opportunity to race twice in each class. There’s also a real incentive there now for teams and competitors to put together more race-winning packages with the Superstock and Supertwin classes now offering a much better return for similar investment and commitment.
‘At the same time, I know that a little mistake or a minor mechanical issue can ruin a race - and all you can think about is having to wait another twelve months before you get to try again. With two races per class, you not only get another bite at the cherry, but you can learn a lot from the first race, which you can take forward to the second. Those races at the end of race week, in particular, I would expect to be hugely competitive and hard-fought.’
Whilst understandably excited about the new-format TT, Peter is confident that the biggest beneficiaries will be the fans.
‘We all know the difficulty of getting in and out of the Island during TT time – and that’s to be expected given how popular it has again become. Getting more fans to the Island to see TT racing and giving them more of what they love is what it’s all about. We take our racing seriously - and the TT is the pinnacle for many of us - but the basic need to entertain the fans and give them real value for money sits at the heart of these changes.’
The expanded schedule is just one of the results of a near 12-month consultation that brought together more than 90 key figures representing all areas of the TT. This included the race management team and a cross section of competitors from the entire TT paddock – as well as medics, marshals and other essential volunteers.
However, the real driving force behind the changes was what the organisers were hearing directly from TT fans. First, via the extensive fan survey undertaken in 2019, and secondly via the introduction of TT Fan Voice earlier this year.
With thousands of real-life examples and pieces of feedback to study, the Motorsport Team were able to build a detailed picture of TT travel, allowing them to pinpoint the biggest issues and establish what was consensus amongst visiting fans. It is this data and insight that have helped shape the future format of the TT, and it is hoped that fans will start to see the benefits in the first year of its introduction.
In addition to the schedule changes, helping fans on-and-off the Island in 2023 will be the new Isle of Man Steam Packet vessel. Larger than the current ferry, the new vessel will not only carry more TT fans in greater comfort, but allow the operators to retain and utilise the current vessel as a second ferry throughout the fortnight. For the TT, the introduction of the new vessel alongside the new race schedule will be significant, allowing more TT fans to look forward to more race days, more racing, and more opportunities to see that racing.
TT 2023 SCHEDULE*
|Mon 29 May UK Bank Holiday||Afternoon & Evening Qualifying|
|Tue 30 May||Evening Qualifying|
|Wed 31 May||Evening Qualifying|
|Thu 1 June||Evening Qualifying|
|Fri 2 June||Afternoon Qualifying|
|Sat 3 June||
Monster Energy Supersport Race 1
3Wheeling.Media Sidecar Race 1
|Sun 4 June||RST Superbike TT|
|Mon 5 June||Rest Day|
|Tue 6 June||
RL360 Superstock Race 1
Bennetts Supertwin Race 1
|Wed 7 June||
Monster Energy Supersport Race 2
3Wheeling.Media Sidecar Race 2
|Thu 8 June||Rest Day|
Fri 9 June
Isle of Man Bank Holiday
RL360 Superstock Race 2
Bennetts Supertwin Race 2
|Sat 10 June||Milwaukee Senior TT|
*Please note the 2023 TT schedule is subject to public consultation