The eight best moments of the 2022 Isle of Man TT

16th June 2022
James Charman

The Isle of Man TT is an event like no other. Held over two weeks with riders competing against themselves and the course itself rather than riding wheel-to-wheel with their competitors. However, despite no “traditional” racing for position on track to conjure up memorable moments, the TT still managed to throw things at us in its own unique style. Here are our eight best moments from the return of the greatest motorsport event in the world.


Davey Todd runs down the mountain (twice)

Going into TT fortnight, all eyes were on the rising star of road racing, Davey Todd. The 26-year-old from Saltburn, North Yorkshire had been scheduled to ride for the works Honda squad in 2020, before everything came to a grinding halt. Although it may have seemed as if one door had closed for Todd when the Honda deal went away, another was swiftly opened by the legendary Padgetts Motorcycles team. Padgetts are known as the de facto factory team when it comes to the Isle of Man TT, and with the experienced head of Clive Padgett at the helm and local hero Conor Cummins as his team-mate, things couldn’t have been set up better for Todd.

After a brilliant showing at the North West 200 brought home a quartet of runners-up trophies, Todd continued his form into the first night of practice, setting the fastest lap of the opening session and showing that his hours upon hours of revision on the official Isle of Man TT video game had paid off. It wasn’t his lap speeds or potential that were the most memorable moments in practice, however, but his sheer dedication to the sport and the event that kept him desperate to keep logging as many laps as possible.

A breakdown at Casey’s - part of the fast Mountain Mile section - threatened his participation in the remainder of the third night of qualifying. While most riders would be resigned to the fact they’d be a spectator until roads reopened, Todd refused to give up. Sprinting cross country to get back to the Gooseneck, where top motorcycle journalist Adam Child was waiting to ferry him back to the pits, Todd would have to crawl through tunnels and culverts, some flooded, before finally reaching his taxi ride back at the start of the Mountain Road. It was all for nought however, as by the time Todd had returned to the pits the session had been brought to an early end for a non-racing medical emergency.

As if that wasn’t enough, just three nights later, on the final night of qualifying, Todd would suffer a catastrophic engine failure, again while up on the Mountain Road. Live TV pictures showed the Padgetts Honda with a plume of smoke billowing out behind it. Pulling in at the Bungalow, this time Todd was able to jump on the back of an enduro bike from a nearby spectator, and the two rode their way back down the mountain in time for Todd to be able to take part in the Supersport session later that evening.

It would all be worth it in the end, because Todd would go on to take a hugely popular first TT podium in the Superstock TT. It was almost another runners-up spot to add to his collection, but team-mate Cummins had other ideas. More on that later…


John McGuinness shines in centennial start

If you didn’t know that the opening race of TT 2022 – the Superbike TT – was going to be John McGuinness’ 100th TT start, then you must have done well to avoid anything to do with the TT in the months leading up to the event. The second-most successful rider in the 115-year history of the event, it was brilliant to see ‘McPint’ back on a bike that could give him a proper shot at the upper echelons of race results in 2022.

The Morecambe Missile’s TT career has somewhat stuttered since a crash at the 2017 North West 200 left him with a badly broken leg that put him out of action for a significant amount of time. What followed was a partnership with Norton that’s better left alone, and one McGuinness himself won’t shy away from saying was a rough patch. Now back with Honda, the stage was set for a glorious Mountain Course comeback.

With a special livery unveiled for the occasion, and running from his regular spot at the head of the field, McGuinness set off down Bray Hill at the start of a TT race for the 100th time in absolutely perfect conditions. The Superbike races are traditionally the longest races across TT week, with six laps of the most gruelling racing circuit in the world adding up to just over 225 miles, and with a race distance of approximately one hour and 45 minutes, they are a test of endurance for both man and machine. It’s unsurprising, then, that the first six-lapper was a race of attrition, with only 27 out of the 50 starters making it to the chequered flag.

As is so often the case, the cream rose to the top, and, while Peter Hickman cruised to a dominant victory, John McGuinness came home in fifth, a result that he would have snatched from you had you offered it to him on the ferry across from Heysham.


Glenn Irwin enters the record books

While McGuinness was getting the tap on the shoulder and making his 100th Isle of Man TT start, further down the grid his team-mate was just 210 seconds away from his very first start as a TT competitor. Glenn Irwin, a star of British Superbikes, had been dominating the big bike classes around the North West 200 since 2017, and was all set to make his first appearance at the Isle of Man TT in 2020 before everything was put on hold.

Three years of preparation meant that Irwin went in to his first ever TT with probably more pressure than any other newcomer had endured before him. Refusing to make any predictions, or at least publicly say what he was really hoping to achieve from his first TT, Irwin set about doing things his own way, and clocked in at a very impressive 122mph on only his first night of practice.

After a steady start to the opening Superbike race, Irwin dragged his way up the order as the race progressed, and as some of the riders ahead of him on the road dropped out through mechanical gremlins. With Peter Hickman’s staggering 129.104mph newcomer record from 2014 as the target, Irwin would have been pleased to produce a 128.117mph lap from a standing start off the line, and all eyes were on his sixth, and only flying, lap. Sure enough, Irwin crossed the line with a lap speed of 129.85mph, and stamped his name in the record books as the fastest ever Newcomer at the Isle of Man TT. Not only that, but he bagged himself eighth place overall. Not bad for your very first race at the Isle of Man.

Unfortunately, mechanical issues ended both his Superstock and Senior TT races early, and Irwin went home mildly disappointed. He later admitted he was hoping to not only enter the 130mph club on his debut event, but believed he had the speed in him to come away with a 131mph lap under his belt. Even so, he will come back next year safe in the knowledge he has the pace to run at the sharp end of the field, and it won’t be long before he’s a regular on the TT podium.


Gas Monkey Garage/FHO Racing succeed at the first time of asking

One of the most hotly anticipated partnerships leading into the 2022 Isle of Man TT was that of FHO Racing and Gas Monkey Garage. It was the first dive into the TT for the FHO squad, with Faye Ho’s team running at the sharp end of the British Championship for a couple of years, and their special partnership for the TT with Richard Rawlings and his Gas Monkey global empire ensured more eyes on the event around the world than ever before.

It couldn’t have gone better for the team, with Rawlings mere hours off the plane to the Island, Peter Hickman put in a totally dominant performance abord the BMW M1000RR – another debutante to the TT – and brought home a trophy at the very first attempt. As if that wasn’t enough, Hickman would go on to take a complete clean sweep for the 1,000cc races, winning both the Superstock and Senior TTs in an equally impressive fashion and meaning there was a trophy each for himself, Ho and Rawlings. Shots of Hickman on the run down from the Creg on the final lap of the Senior, giving waves and thumbs ups to the cameras along the road made it look like he was just out for a Sunday ride.

As well as securing a hat-trick for the FHO and Gas Monkey team, Hickman also took the top step in the Supertwin TT after his closest rival Michael Dunlop retired on the final lap. With three 1,000cc wins and a Supertwin triumph under his belt, he became one of only three men (Dunlop and Philip McCallen being the others) to take four wins in a single week.


Dunlop breaks Supersport records

Although he wouldn’t admit it, everyone felt that Peter Hickman was eyeing up a record of becoming the first ever man to win six wins in a week at the TT, beating the 12-year record set by Ian Hutchinson. He certainly seemed to be in with a shot at a clean sweep of all races during qualifying, but when it came down to the two Supersport races, he was greeted with a blockage in the shape of Michael Dunlop.

Heading into the 2022 TT with 19 wins to his name, it’s always a dangerous move to count out Michael Dunlop, and he has made the Supersport class his own over the past few years, with seven victories and a lap record in the category. Right from the off, it was nip and tuck between Dunlop and Dean Harrison (who had a solid week but just couldn’t get to the top step, no matter how hard he tried) for top honours, while Hickman was left to battle it out for the final podium place with James Hillier and Lee Johnston.

A new lap record (bringing the 600s even closer to 130mph) on the final lap was enough to secure Dunlop victory in the first race - his 20th around the TT course, but it was his win in the second Supersport race that goes down as one of the greatest moments of the week. Not only did he extend his overall tally at the TT to 21, just two behind John McGuinness and five behind uncle Joey, but both victories were enough to make him the most successful Supersport rider in the history of the event, taking his ninth win in what was once known as the Junior TT.


Crowe Brothers lay the foundations of a bright future

The headlines focussed on the Birchall brothers heading into the Sidecar races at the return of the TT and whether or not they’d be able to become the first ever outfit to break the 120mph barrier around the 37.73-mile course. While a number of factors stopped that record from being broken throughout the week, all was not lost in terms of a feel-good story from the three-wheelers.

In only their second ever TT, the Crowe brothers, sons of five-time winner and previous lap record holder Nick Crowe, were labelled with the “ones to watch” tag, and boy did they live up to that hype. With Ben and Tom Birchall running off into the distance in the opening TT race, the focus was on the battle for the remaining podium places, with the Crowes sitting second after lap one, but slipping back to third halfway through the second and final lap to Peter Founds and Jevan Walmsley.

A mammoth ride from the Bungalow back down to the Grandstand was enough to secure the Crowes the second spot on the podium, and the emotion in parc fermé was there for the world to see. Such is the camaraderie in the TT paddock, the very first people to embrace the Crowes were the race winning Birchalls (who also happen to be their outfit builders), looking just as elated for the runners-up as they were for winning their 11th TT. With the Crowes' performance coming on just their ninth and tenth laps ever around the TT Course, it looks like we’re set for an outstanding few years in the Sidecar category.


Conor Cummins pushes himself further than ever before

Whenever a Manxman stands on the podium at the TT, it feels special. Having seen the success of the Crowe brothers in the Sidecar race, Conor Cummins would have known that the best chance the home fans had to seeing one of their countrymen on the podium in the solo categories lay squarely on his shoulders. After a difficult start to race week for the Padgetts team brought an early end to their Superbike race, it was all guns blazing for the Superstock encounter just a couple of days later.

With Hickman controlling the race at the front, as he had done all week, Conor Cummins and Davey Todd engaged in an intra-team fight for the remaining podium places that would keep the fans on the edge of their seat until the chequered flag dropped. The two swapped positions multiple times throughout the three-lap race, but it was a monumental lap from Cummins that secured him second when all was said and done. The Ramsey man pushed his Honda Fireblade to the absolute limit, producing a final lap speed of 133.116mph, not only beating his own personal best around the Island, but setting the best lap ever for a Fireblade around the TT course, in both Superstock and Superbike categories. Cummins later admitted that a less-than-perfect first lap put him on the back foot from the start, and believed he could have at least put pressure on Hickman had the race started off how he’d have hoped.


Senior TT happens thanks to influx of marshals

When a red flag delay and subsequent bad weather brought about the postponement of the Senior TT, there loomed a huge question mark over whether or not the blue riband race would actually be able to go ahead or not. Not because of further weather issues (although the conditions weren’t ideal), but because of a lack of available marshals for the Saturday – a day where the vast majority had already been booked on ferries to go home.

Following a plea on social media from not only the TT itself but a number of top riders, the marshalling HQ was inundated with people putting themselves forward to don the orange coat and ensure that the Senior was able to happen. It wasn’t only fans who were putting themself forward, either. Photos emerged of team personnel from across the paddock signing the relevant pieces of paperwork to get started, while sidecar champs Ben and Tom Birchall suggested they would be signing up to do their part. They would be following in the footsteps of John Holden, who had been scheduled to compete at number two in the sidecar races, but following issues with his passenger(s), was forced to withdraw, deciding to take up marshalling for the week instead.

The response was so significant that not only did they get enough marshals to run the race, but had to turn people away due to being oversubscribed. While some who had been unsuccessful in their application to become a marshal ended up providing lap boards for a number of front running competitors in the Senior TT, the rest were treated to a full-length six-lap spectacle in very windy conditions for one last blast around the Mountain.

Although it was a tough week at times, with the deaths of Mark Purslow, Cesar Chanel, Davy Morgan and Roger and Bradley Stockton putting a damper on an otherwise outstanding week of racing, there was plenty to keep spirits up, with moments that will keep TT fans happy until it all starts again in just 11 months’ time.

Images courtesy of IOMTT.

  • Isle of Man TT

  • 2022


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