‘I’m banging bars with kids and the hunger is as strong as ever’ – McGuinness|
The first four rounds of the British Championship has seen the paddock full of young riders eager to make their mark and climb to the top of the racing ladder but there’s one rider, at the opposite end of the spectrum, with the same passion, desire and will to win – John McGuinness.
2020 is, almost unbelievably, the Morecambe rider’s 31st year of racing and he’s returned to the short circuit scene for the first time in ten years, making his series debut in the Ducati TriOptions Cup. Four rounds in, the 23-time TT winner is sitting in sixth overall.
“I might have been racing thirty odd years but I still love riding a motorbike,” McGuinness told bikesportnews.com. “I’m not under loads of pressure and what will be, will be in terms of the results but the Ducati series is something new for me and I’m really enjoying myself both on and off the bike. It’s ticking a lot of the boxes.”
“I’m banging bars with all the kids out there and the hunger is as strong as ever; I want to do the best I can in every race and if someone stuffs it up the inside of me at one corner, I want to do the same to them at the next. It’s not necessarily a means to an end but racing’s all I know and being out on track on the bike stimulates the brain.”
Having signed for the Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki team last winter, McGuinness had always intended to ride in the Ducati TriOptions Cup as it was vital for him to be race sharp once the North West 200 and TT came around, something he’s still very much focused on.
With good friend Andre Compton, the pairing are running under the Lund Group Ducati banner and it’s a small, close-knit affair with two bikes and a pop-up awning. Son Ewan is on the pitboard with Dale Extance (son of Bournemouth Kawasaki owner Pete Extance) and long time friend Mick Raynor wielding the spanners.
“Andre was quick to put everything in place and some of my long-time sponsors such as Motul, Robbie Burns, Bennetts, Datatag and Monster have all chipped in along with Sheffield Motorcycle Centre and Hitachi.
“We’ve got a workshop at the house where we can work on the bikes in the evenings, Ewan’s involved with a bit of direction and we’re ticking along nicely.
I’ve always been an advocate of racing on the short circuits being vital for your preparation for the roads. I was doing it a few years before the others cottoned on and a lot of my success in the mid-2000s came because I was doing the British Championships when not many of the other top road racers were.
“But now everyone’s doing it. You have to. You can’t stand still. Look around the paddock. Hicky, Dean, Lee, Davey Todd plus some of the Irish lads now like Brian McCormack and Adam McLean.
“I haven’t been able to do it for a few years, for various reasons, and I’m seeing some of the circuits for the first time in ten years plus I’m riding a brand new bike but I’m getting there.”
A lack of pre-season testing and a truncated season means McGuinness has been on the back foot a bit, in a series where many of the riders have been competing for some time. Only at round three at Silverstone did he start trying tinkering with the settings such as different gearing and a different wheelbase.
“The bike’s different to anything I’ve ridden before and I need to sharpen up in a few areas but you never stop learning. Last year was a disaster but my race/bike fitness is coming back to me and while it would be easy to stay at home with my feet up, everything I’m doing now is about the roads in 2021. It’s got be standing me in good stead.”