SUPERBIKE & SENIOR PREVIEW: THE BIG ONES
The 2023 Isle of Man TT Races get underway on Monday and whilst each rider has their own goals, the ‘big ones’ that they all want to win remain the 6-lap RST Superbike and Milwaukee Senior TT Races.
Having won four of the last six Superbike and Senior Races and setting the outright lap record in the process, it’s hard to look past Peter Hickman as the favourite for honours as he continues with BMW machinery for the fifth consecutive event. The Monster Energy by FHO Racing BMW rider is certainly well placed to add to his current tally of nine TT wins, but will arguably face the toughest competition for some years.
His main rivals since 2018 have been Michael Dunlop and Dean Harrison – the former winning the 2018 Superbike Race and the latter the 2019 Senior, and the rivalry should be equally as fierce this time around. DAO Racing Kawasaki’s Harrison remains the Superbike lap record holder whilst Dunlop looks to be rejuvenated on the Hawk Racing Honda and, as the second and third fastest riders around the Mountain Course, are two of the strongest challengers to Hickman’s crown.
The same applies to the Milenco by Padgett’s Motorcycles duo of Conor Cummins and Davey Todd. Cummins holds the impressive record of standing on the podium in every Superbike and Senior race since 2018. Todd meanwhile took his maiden podium in the 2022 RL360 Superstock Race and as arguably the hottest property in road racing at the moment, a pair of Padgett’s machines on the podium is a distinct possibility.
He's been on every podium since 2018, will 2023 be the year Conor tops it?
They’re both well placed to make the step up to the 134mph+ average speeds Hickman and Harrison have been setting of late, and Josh Brookes (Monster Energy by FHO Racing BMW) would like to put himself in that category, too. The Australian returns to the TT for the first time since 2018 and although his first aim will be to better his current best finish of fifth, he’ll also have one eye firmly on the podium.
Honda have plenty of opportunities to make it into the top three in either race with 23-time winner John McGuinness MBE (Honda Racing), David Johnson (C&L Fairburn Properties/Jackson Racing) and Jamie Coward (KTS Racing powered by Steadplan) all lining up on the Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.
Davo is back for his first TT since 2019
Michael Rutter (Bathams Racing) again lines up on the highly popular MotoGP-derived RC213V-S with team-mate Craig Neve another to opt for the Fireblade.
James Hillier (OMG Racing) leads, almost single handedly, the Yamaha challenge once more but BMW have plenty of riders in their midst aiming to make their mark, none more so than Dominic Herbertson (APERO/Gilbert Brown & Son Ltd), Phil Crowe (Handtrans/Agri Wash), Mike Browne (Burrows Engineering/RK Racing), Sam West (Street Diner Racing) and Brian McCormack (Roadhouse Macau by FHO).
Suzuki’s hopes rest with the consistent Shaun Anderson (Team Classic Suzuki) and Michael Evans (ME Racing Suzuki), whilst other riders aiming to impress in the two races include Rob Hodson (SMT Racing Honda), Paul Jordan (PreZ Racing Yamaha), rising German star David Datzer (TP-Racing by Syntainics Penz13 BMW) and Matt Stevenson (Dafabet Racing Kawasaki).
Last year’s newcomers Rennie Scaysbrook and Jamie Cringle make the step up to the 1000cc races this year with the latter’s brother Ryan, Macau GP winner Erno Kostamo and multiple World Endurance champion Matthie Lagrive the leading debutantes this time.