Trackside Tuesday: Out with the Old?

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With Michael Dunlop’s second successive year taking the lion’s share of silverware at the TT, a changing of the guard appears to be taking place as a new generation of riders lay claim to the podium places on the famous Mountain Course.

Debut victories by James Hillier and Dean Harrison, in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and John McGuinness’ pair of solitary trips to the top step of the podium in the same years appear to confirm this.

Before any cries of ageism are thrown in my direction, the age of a rider bears no relation to whether they belong in the old or new guard. Experience around the course is what separates the old from the new.

With over 200 apexes to learn and countless lumps, bumps and cambers to memorise, it’s believed by many who have raced it, that the Mountain course takes years to truly learn, even with the advent of HD-quality on-board videos to study.

A number of relative newcomers are becoming serious challengers after only a few years at the TT, becoming quicker with every race they complete. Riders like Lee Johnston, Jamie Hamilton, and Josh Brookes have all taken very different routes prior to their Mountain course debuts, but are already challenging long-established names.

Of all the new school of riders, Dean Harrison is the standout rider waiting to be waved down Glencrutchery Road, and head off the face of the planet towards the bottom of Bray Hill.

A likeable character, who looks to enjoy every minute involved in racing, including the premature end to his Senior race due to a mechanical issue, which resulted in him having a few pints of beer bought by the spectators watching at Ginger Hall hotel.

The son of sidecar driver Conrad Harrison (who also won his first TT this year, a great stat for any pop quizzes, fact fans) and brother of fellow competitor Adrian, Dean has already won his first TT and achieved the fabled lap speed of 130mph in only his fourth year at the TT.

In addition to his win in the Lightweight race, a second place in the Superstock race behind Dunlop and a brace of fourth places only served to highlight Dean’s talents and his future winning potential in all classes at the TT. On this showing alone, he will be pushing Michael Dunlop for more wins, while the old guard will be pushing to further their own victory tallies.

Whether their time is up or not, the old guard won’t take this new wave of riders lying down, and they won’t be bowing out gracefully.

Photo: © 2014 Richard Mushet / Mushet Photo – All Rights Reserved

Richard Mushet is a British photographer who has been known to cover motorcycle racing in it’s many forms. You can view his site here, and follow his Facebook page for more frequent updates over here: MushetPhoto.



  1. Could it possibly be that the bikes are getting easier to ride fast? Or at least, more confidence inspiring?

  2. I can definitely see where you’re coming from, with tyres and electronics drastically improving over the past decade or so, but the lap record has only increased by 2mph since 2007’s centenary meeting. I think the technology has more bearing on lap records than it does on course knowledge. Modern bikes make it easier for riders with talent to hit 120 or even 125mph laps, but it’s cojones and skill that get a rider towards the magical 130 mark.

    A number of newcomers choose to ride less bikes, learning the circuit on less powerful supersport and suoerstock machinery. Ivan Lintin only rode a litre bike at the TT for the first time this year, Danny Webb didn’t bother with a superbike (racing his ‘stocker in the Superbike and Senior races) and Peter Hickman only rode his superstock bike, leaving the lightweight and supersport classes for another year…