TG chats to John McGuinness
It says something of the quality of John McGuinness that despite yet another win at this year’s TT, his 2014 TT campaign wasn’t considered a stellar one. So would we find him in downhearted spirits at Goodwood?
Not a bit of it. “It’s great to see all the machinery, and the fans. Every year there’s a new generation of fans here which is great. And I’m just a lucky lad, getting all that and being with all the A-listers. Having no pressure’s nice ‘n all.”
Pressure is something that McGuinness is well used to. Riding out for six laps of the TT course, at one of the most dangerous motorsport events in the world, focuses the mind a fraction. And this year’s was even trickier, because 11 weeks before the TT, his blue-riband event, he broke his wrist riding a trial bike. Really badly.
“I was sat on a boulder with me wrist dislocated, scaphoid bone broken, thinking my world was over, my career was over. So just to get to the TT was a win for me. That was a huge achievement. The electric victory [his 21st TT win riding an electric bike] was the icing on the cake.”
But McGuinness is nothing if not competitive, and you can tell it still smarts a bit that he didn’t get any other victories. “It was tough when others came past me.” In the year that Michael Dunlop swept all before him, McGuinness was in so much pain that he struggled to ride the bike to the speeds he knows he’s capable of.
It does beg the question as to why on earth he was trial riding just before the TT. “I’ve always done it. I’ve trained on that loop in the Lakes for years. I must’ve ridden it 1000 times. This time, I just hit a kicker bump and it flicked me off piste. Whacked this boulder that’s been there since the dinosaurs and it stopped me dead. It’s the worst crash I’ve ever had. I hurt me bollocks, me jaw, it knocked me out. I were s******g blood for days after.”
You wonder whether it starts to make him question his profession. McGuinness has always been one of those riders that knows what the risks are and never pushes beyond them. Brave, but not stupid. So will he go back for more?
“I’ve definitely got another couple of years yet. Joey [Dunlop’s] record is the bottom of my priorities - I just love riding. And besides, they’d probably assassinate me in Northern Ireland if I ever got past 26 [Joey Dunlop’s TT record].”
Great news for the fans then. “Michael Dunlop is gonna take some stopping. He’s got great passion for the racing and for his family name.” But you get the feeling that McGuinness isn’t going to let him have it all his own way, not just yet.