Great progress for Honda Racing UK in qualifying at the Isle of Man TT Races

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Qualifying week at the 2022 Isle of Man TT Races is finished and the Honda Racing UK duo of John McGuinness MBE and Glenn Irwin have made great progress, refining the setup of their Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP machines, posting impressive lap times ahead of their first race tomorrow (Saturday 4 June), the six-lap RST Superbike TT Race.

For John this is a much longed-for return to his favourite race circuit after years thwarted by injury and global pandemic. John has been reunited with the Fireblade, the bike on which he's secured 12 of his 23 TT victories. This new SP version is much updated on his previous racing Fireblades but clearly John feels very much at home and has been quietly, diligently refining his setup, improving his lap speed with every qualifying session so far. 

Starting on Sunday, John lapped at 124.995mph on his Superbike, by Tuesday night's Q3 he improved this to an impressive 128.644mph (sixth fastest). Thursday was the week's highpoint for John, and while sun strike made vision in certain sections of the course difficult John still set an impressive 129.278mph lap. On his Superstock bike John has ridden three sessions posting a fastest lap of 127.399mph.

Glenn, meanwhile, in his debut year, has been firing in as many laps as he can in every session in order to increase his circuit knowledge. In the opening qualifying session last Sunday, he managed to squeeze in an incredible seven laps. Glenn's lap times have been impressive right from the start, reflecting the 'homework' he's put in ahead of his first competitive laps at the TT Mountain Course. 

Glenn started with an opening lap of 111mph, but by the end of Q1 had already lifted this substantially to a 122.616mph. Between Q2 and Q5 Glenn lifted his times to an excellent 125mph, but left it to Q6 to uncork a cracking lap despite the course being damp through the Ramsey sections – his speed: 128.268mph.

Tomorrow, the Honda Racing UK team will be in action with the six-lap RST Superbike TT Race, where John McGuinness will celebrate his 100th TT race start and for Glenn, his first ever. Click here for the full schedule. 

#1 John McGuinness MBE

It's been a really good start to the TT fortnight. We’ve been chipping away at it, ticking the boxes, getting the mileage in, the bikes are probably better than me even now, I’ve been learning how to ride them again, and there’s lot of new technology with the bikes as well, plenty for me to learn, step by step, lap by lap.

At the start it was a bit of a handful, so I was hurting after that first qualifying, Monday morning I felt like I’d been run over but now I’m gripping the bike less, and the more relaxed you are, the more flowing, the less tiring it is, and we've made a little tweak here, a little tweak there so I'm getting into a more comfortable position with the bike. But everyone’s in the same boat, we've not done this for a while, so we we're all a bit nervous, grabbing the bull by the horns, but now we’re settling in and enjoying it more. And we are figuring it out, and putting in 129mph laps we’re not a million miles away.

It's been good sharing the garage with Glenn. The TT is vibrant right now, it’s flying, but we need riders like Glenn to come through and take over the mantle, so if I can help in any way I will, just as I got help when I was younger from the guys with more experience. But the kid's got tons of talent, he wants it and he’s done his homework, and you can only commend him for that. And finishing the week on a 128mph lap – that's blown us away! 

Glenn Irwin

Every day it’s a big nerves-build here at the TT. It’s all new to me, quite a different pattern, normally I go to the gym in the morning, and if it’s a BSB weekend I’m on track by late morning or at latest one in the afternoon, but here it’s a day of emotion and adrenaline building, and nerves, understandably because of where we are, all the way to six in the evening.

On track, though, everything has been steady away. I’m building into it in the correct way, going a little bit quicker each time because you’ve got to take your time. I'm probably still riding certain places a gear too low, like fifth instead of sixth through Crosby – but I’m just not ready to go through Crosby in sixth, it’s scary! But I’m really enjoying it, and I was happy to be lapping at very nearly 125mph by the third night. You naturally improve your lap times because you go round that corner one more time than last time. I’ve been around each corner 14 times now. But it's funny here, if I was talking Knockhill I would have done turn one 14 times in 14 minutes, but this is the TT so it’s three days to do that many laps!

The bike and the team are all working perfectly, I was surprised that come midweek I'd even started making little setup changes, which I didn't think I would get around to this fortnight. I've been appreciating the support I'm getting from John, too, in giving me tips and helping my learning process. I'm very happy to have finished the week with the 128mph lap, it felt comfortable doing that, even on a partly damp track. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race, six laps, fuel stops and all – it's going to be an experience!