Isle of Wight Diamond Races: the IOMTT view
“This is a massive and very welcome shot in the arm for the sport of road racing. After the wipe-outs and financial drought of 2020, next year needs to be a big year of recovery and expansion for event promoters, riders and teams. An exciting, well organised, new event in the South of England is just what is needed. And with a date just after the final BSB round, we can’t wait to see which riders will challenge the kings of the roads like Peter Hickman, Michael Dunlop and Dean Harrison.” - Peter Duke, Duke Marketing CEO.
Frankly, in this climate any positive move to invest in the future of real road racing is a welcome one.
The Diamond Races, as the new venture is being called, will take place in October 2021 as a time trial format on a 12.4 mile public road course in the south west of the Island.
Initial plans are targeting Superstock, Supersport and Lightweight races, plus a sidecar demonstration. The fields will consist of 30-36 riders set off at ten second intervals in the manner of the Isle of Man TT.
For motorsport fans on England’s South coast, the Diamond Races will be a first chance to experience the thrill of road racing so close to home. Until a change in the law in 2017 racing on closed public roads wasn’t possible in England and Wales.
Whilst the delivery of the first event in October 2021 is still not quite a done deal, the omens are looking good. Certainly, compared to other recent efforts to start road races in the UK, there’s a sense around the Diamond Races that barring a major upset the races will happen.
The big attraction for the promoters is the vast potential audience living within two hours of the proposed course, and the established capacity for the Isle of Wight to accommodate a very large influx of visitors in the holiday off-season.
This joined-up approach to the business of road racing is a sensible starting point for the new event and, provided the first races get the greenlight, will ensure the Diamond Races are on a good standing going forwards.
The success of the Isle of Wight races is yet to be determined but the initial optimism looks to be grounded in financial realities: The benefit to the island will be a large increase in visitor spend outside of the usual holiday season, the teams will get another chance to compete in an international event, and fans get another chance to see their heroes in action, many close to home for the first time.
Positioning the event at the back end of the calendar is another canny move, especially as the low level of the course will negate any “mist on the mountain” type delays. Being in close proximity to the last BSB round of the season means there’s a chance to tempt some of the field into dipping a toe into time trial road racing, helping to fill the proposed 30 - 36 rider fields with familiar names.
And how will the launch of a new event affect the TT? Sure, it may mean a few visitors to the TT decide to visit the Isle of Wight instead, however, the bigger picture is anything that raises the profile of road racing in a positive way will result in greater awareness of the Isle of Man TT Races.
The additional payday for teams will be a welcome one since the sad end of the Ulster Grand Prix cut the international road race calendar by a third. As we’ve already mentioned, the timing of the Diamond Races could also lead to an injection of new talent into the TT field.
The final verdict: we look forward to enjoying the first Diamond Races in October
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