Stars and disappointments of the 2022 Isle of Man TT
There isn’t an event on the motorsport calendar like the Isle of Man TT for many reasons, but one of the main factors that helps make it unique is the fact that the race almost exists as a once-in-a-lifetime event, the absolute shining gem of the road racing calendar and as such the one and only chance of the year for many road racers to show what they are made of.
This adds to the pressure: you have a fortnight a year to get things done and complete 11 months of preparation. The result? Every year surprise names deliver something special, independent racers make their own mark and some of the biggest names suffer.
The circumstances of 2022 were also unique, thanks to a two-year COVID-induced hiatus, which meant that when John McGuinness got the pat on the shoulder to start the Superbike TT, he was the first person in almost three years down Bray Hill at full speed on a superbike.
With that in mind, we take a look at some of the biggest winners and some of the most disappointed (and disappointing) riders from this year’s event – and the factors that made them happy or down about their first TT since 2019.
It seems slightly obvious to include Peter Hickman on this list given that he came into the TT as a clear favourite, but the new senior TT champion has done a fantastic job of reminding everyone how great he is. good in 2022 not only winning every big bike race but looking totally unstoppable in the process.
Sure, he was challenged here and there, for a sector or two back then, and he probably would have been beaten by Michael Dunlop in the Supertwin TT if Dunlop’s bike hadn’t failed – but the fact Still, we’re very much into the Hickman era at the TT and there’s no one else who’s really able to touch it.
Even scarier is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be anyone coming up the ranks any time soon to challenge him, meaning he has every chance of continuing to extend his new record of nine wins. .
Heading into the 2022 TT, home hero Conor Cummins’ preparation has been somewhat quiet. Normally someone who appears in a few rounds of the British Championship to whet his appetite ahead of the short-road campaign, a rather serious training injury he kept fairly low-key earlier this year meant there didn’t have much attention on him.
Still, he delivered a pretty spectacular TT at the end, not quite winning a race but on the podium in both Superstock and Senior TT. His lap time was even more impressive as he chased Hickman on the final lap of the stock race, raising the bar with a very impressive 133.12 mph lap – considerably faster than anyone else, but Hickman managed the whole week.
The first win still eludes him, of course, but as he is even after that pre-season injury, it’s not at all impossible to imagine that 2023 might finally offer the chance for Manx glory.
The Isle of Man TT is an almost unique race in that sometimes things just don’t go your way and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it – not because of poor preparation or less capable machinery, but simply because of the nature of 37.73 miles of public road which briefly becomes a racetrack.
Such was the case with Northern Irishman Paul Jordan when he suddenly found a pigeon in his way while training on his superbike – and the bird crashed into his visor at 190mph on the line Sulby’s right. Lucky to survive let alone make it out unscathed, it was one hell of a way for anyone to get into the TT spirit.
Yet that didn’t just slow him down – it seemed to make him faster as he scored a first-ever TT podium in the Supertwin race. Still sporting two black eyes on the podium from the impact, it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever forget his 2022 TT.
Going into this year’s race, you couldn’t help but feel that one of the most pressured people was 19-time race winner Dunlop, who not only missed 2020 and 2021 like everyone else. world, but also had a poor outing the last time the event took place in 2019 as he battled an injury previously picked up.
Unable to extend his winning record at the time (and getting closer and closer to his Uncle Joey’s record of 26 wins), there was talk in 2022 suggesting that Dunlop may have finished, not being able to no more doing what he had always done and jumping on bikes after most of the year and taking on the British Superbike favourites.
Yet he proved in the two supersport races at this year’s event that he still remains the absolute master of this class, making victories in both cases easy, even if he also had Hickman in the neck. It should have been three wins too – he was robbed of a supertwin win by a mechanical problem. But the fact is well proven: Michael Dunlop is back in business.
Perhaps not too familiar a name to the casual TT fan, Dom Herbertson was perhaps one of the surprise forfeits at this year’s event. He delivered a series of remarkable results and came home as one of the best true privateers. Taking 10th, 9th, 8th, 8th and 8th out of six starts, even a Senior TT accident wasn’t enough to spoil what was otherwise a great week for him.
However, it’s not just the results that make Herbertson’s TT so special – it’s the circumstances that saw him come to this year’s event nursing perhaps one of his pre-season injuries. -most unusual season of all time.
An arborist by trade, Herbertson managed to hit himself in the face with a running chainsaw just eight weeks before the event, leaving him not only in doubt for this year’s race, but at risk of losing his sight due to damage to his his left eye. . Not only an impressive TT, but an impressive recovery full stop.
The biggest disappointments
Whether or not 2022 has been successful for John McGuinness is hard to say. While it was a TT that felt very much like a farewell tour for him in some ways, even though he hasn’t announced anything about his future yet, it’s still kind of sad to see the second greatest rider in TT history to finish battling for 18th, as it did in both supersport races.
And yet he still managed a pretty impressive fifth place in the Superbike TT, and although he didn’t hit the 130mph club (a club he started) this time around, he did. is approached, proving that there is still life in the old dog.
A podium would have been spectacular, but maybe given what he was hoping for, it wasn’t a bad TT for him.
What Ian Hutchinson achieved in 2010, winning five TT races in a week on what were essentially satellite machines, is a feat that may never be repeated again.
Yet with a series of devastating crashes and injuries since then affecting every step he has taken for the better part of a decade, it also doesn’t look like we’re going to see a return to that winner-takes-all form. 16 times. .
Not far off the podium on occasion in terms of results this year, notably with fourth in the opening Superbike TT, he was nonetheless two minutes behind his nearest rival, and with two sevenths later in the week he is clear that racing victories are not in the cards anymore for him, unfortunately.
He’s arguably done well in 2022 – but that doesn’t mean he’ll be thrilled.
If you imagine for a second that Lee Johnston will be happy with his two weeks on the Isle of Man, then you really don’t understand the running mentality.
Expecting to be at least a favorite in both supersport races and maybe even feature in superstock and superbike too, his only second place finish behind Hickman in the Supersport TT is something of a consolation prize, but it will not be enough.
He expected to be a race winner again after two weeks in June, but allergic reactions triggering vision problems meant that was simply not expected.
Forced to pull out of the Senior TT before it even started, hopefully that means he comes back next year hungrier than ever.
On the one hand, Dean Harrison has produced another excellent TT in 2022, earning four podium finishes and a fourth in his five races. But, as the old saying goes, second place is the first loser – and Harrison was utterly unable to bring anything to the party that could have seriously challenged Hickman and Dunlop when they were both fit. .
Arguably more consistent than the two in terms of results, finishing second to both in the superbike and supersport classes, he even challenged them in the odd sector at the start of some races – but there just wasn’t enough there to really be in with a chance to dethrone either.
Over the past few years, James Hillier has been a fixture on the TT podium, racking up an impressive 13 major class podiums to go along with his only victory in the 2013 lightweight TT – and 2022 should have been no different, thanks to a new partnership with OMG Racing, top quality Yamaha machinery and plenty of track time in British Superbikes.
Still, the reality was a rather anonymous TT for him. His results were by no means terrible – most people would give a lot for four top-seven finishes.
But it was far from the form we expected him to be in a year when some thought he could have been a superbike challenger for Hickman.