The continuing success of the Isle of Man TT’s drive to recruit new talent was obvious as the line-up of riders planning their debut on the Mountain Circuit was announced at the Official Media Launch of the 2010 TT.
The recruitment of new talent has been one of the undoubted success stories in the TT’s recent history.
In 2010, a new group of newcomers will arrive, all with tremendous experience - particularly at British Championship level - and all intent on following in the footsteps of some of the stars of today. The majority are under 30 and keen to have an extensive TT career.
It’s easy to forget the likes of Guy Martin, Cameron Donald, Conor Cummins and Steve Plater made their Mountain Course debuts in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively, while that period has also seen Keith Amor and Gary Johnson tackle the famous Mountain Course for the first time.
Martin, Donald, Cummins and Plater all took podiums in a short space of time, with Plater and Donald already double winners. Plus, Plater and Cummins are among just three riders to officially break the magical 130mph barrier.
It doesn’t end there. James Hillier, William Dunlop, Mark Buckley and Ian Mackman have all recorded top 10 finishes, with Les Shand, Mark Miller and Jimmy Moore also impressing. Last year saw Steve Mercer and Ben Wylie both impress and sure to improve further in 2010, while the same can also be said of impressive European stars Luis Carreira, Michal Dokoupil and Rico Penzkofer.
Looking at the 2010 crop of newcomers, Stephen Thompson has long been a leading contender at both the Macau Grand Prix and North West 200.
The Northern Ireland rider has also been a fixture in the British Superstock Championship and that’s where Daniel Hegarty, Kenny Gilbertson and James Hurrell have all starred in recent years.
The trio, all under the age of 25, have regularly featured in the top 10, with Gilbertson having a podium finish beside his name, and all three are exciting youngsters whose progress at the TT will be eagerly watched.
Meanwhile, David Jones will be one of the youngest riders on the grid, the 21-year-having finished in solid fifth place in last year’s British Supersport Cup.
An interesting entry was received from Gary May, one of Britain’s leading 250cc riders at the end of the 1990s and MRO Champion as recently as 2006, the Berkshire rider having also excelled on four-stroke machinery in the last decade. Irish Superbike Champion Brian McCormack finally gets to make his debut after being forced to miss out 12 months ago.
There’s further overseas representation with Australian ace David Johnson. The Adelaide rider commenced his UK career back in 2002 against Cal Crutchlow, Tom Sykes, Craig Jones and Guy Martin in the Juniorstock Championship, while recent years have seen him frequently picking up points in the formidable British Superbike Championship.
Swiss rider Herve Ganther, a former star of the European Superstock Championship, will be bringing his Honda Switzerland machines with him, while Clinton Pienaar is one of South Africa’s most highly respected, and successful, riders so it’s clear to see the lure of the TT is continuing to reach all corners of the globe.
There are also a number of newcomers in the Formula 2 Sidecar class led by highly experienced British driver Gary Knight, who finished fourth in last year’s World Championship with son Dan in the chair.
Austrian driver Michael Grambuller brings further World Championship experience to the grid with young Yorkshire driver Carl Fenwick also expected to shine. Meanwhile, Dean Lindley, Nigel Mayers, Matthew Dix, Nicholas Dukes and Richard Lumley all have experience at British Championship level and/or at the Southern 100 and Scarborough.