McGee targets Lightweight TT win in 2019

Picture: Impact Images

Multiple Irish National road race champion Derek McGee enjoyed an excellent Isle of Man TT campaign in 2018, the highlight being second place in the Lightweight race but the Mullingar Missile is keen to go one better this year and grab his maiden victory around the Mountain Course.

The best newcomer in 2015, McGee lapped at more than 125mph the following year before being forced to miss the 2017 event but he was soon back on the leaderboard last year, with strong performances in all classes, although he admits he was surprised at just how well his return went.

“My main aim last year was to get back into the groove as it was like starting all over again after missing 2017 but I made a good jump up in all of the classes, both with my speeds and results so I was quite surprised at how it all went,” McGee told bikesportnews.com.

Obviously, second place and breaking the lap record in the Lightweight race was the highlight but I got up to almost 128mph on the big bike, which was completely standard, and more than 125mph on the 600 where we ran inside the top ten in both races.

“I made big strides forward even though we didn’t get many laps in on the big bike and were forced to miss the Superstock race after there was a mix-up with the numbers.

What we achieved last year should really pay dividends this time around as I’m seeded in every class and I’m going to learn so much during practice week by getting away with the quick lads.

“All of my lap times last year were done on my own which was proof of the jump I made and I’m confident we’re going to improve again this time around.”

Having pretty much dominated the Irish National scene and won everything there is to be won, McGee is eager to make his mark at the International road races with the TT, in particular, the one where he wants to impress the most.

“The TT’s the pinnacle of my season and I love the place – it’s without doubt the best road race circuit in the world. When you have a good year, you can get a really good feel for the place but I know there’s more to come, particularly on the big bike as I was riding a little bit tense last year mainly due to my track knowledge being rusty. When I get to know the course that bit better, I’ll be more relaxed which will enable me to go quicker.

“With my background being the smaller, narrower circuits back home, the Glen Helen section should be my favourite bit of the course but I love the Mountain and its fast, flowing nature really suits my style. I love the entire 37.73 miles to be fair so if I can get some good laps in during practice week and pick up some new reference points, I’m definitely looking to get some good results this year.”

McGee’s 2018 season saw him win countless races, clinching the Superbike and Supertwin Championships before a crash, through no fault of his own, at the Ulster Grand Prix, left him with a fractured pelvis, a snapped femur, four broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a collapsed lung but miraculously he was back four weeks later as he tried to get enough points to add the Supersport crown to his collection.

He did more than that as he won the final race at Killalane and his Supersport effort has been boosted this year with his small, tight-knit team having purchased the Gearlink Kawasaki which Ben Currie took to second in last year’s British Supersport Championship.

“We’re a relatively small team with a small budget so we’re going to sit out some of the Nationals this year with the focus being on the Internationals. MSS have done a great job with the new ZX-10RR which we’ll again be running as standard except for changes to the suspension and pipe and the new 600 should help me have an even bigger impact on the class.”

“I was up to seventh in last year’s second Supersport race so I know what I can do. With the Lightweight bike, it’s great to be with Ryan’s KMR Kawasaki team again and he never stops working. He lives and breathes the class and he’s improved the bike in every area this year so we’ll definitely have a quicker bike than what we did in 2018.”

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