Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness was due to start his 30th year of motorcycle racing in 2020 but his season has panned out in a far different way due to the cornavirus shutdown.
Rather than reigniting his career with the Quattro Plant Kawasaki team, he’s been resigned to gardening, carrying out jobs around the house and watching TV boxsets instead.
The Morecambe Missile has been around long enough to know the sport inside out but even he knows the pandemic is something that no-one has ever seen before.
Despite his past success, the 48-year old, like many other riders, is facing a year without any form of income, the cancellation of the Isle of Man TT and North West 200 wiping out any chance of a pay day – but he’s confident the sport has what it takes to survive.
“Everything revolves around racing for me and it’s pretty much all I know. Like Michael (Rutter), for years all we’ve done is go racing and if we’re not racing, we’re attending chat shows, bike shows, all sorts but this year I’ve done absolutely nothing,” McGuinness told bikesportnews.com
“As well as the shows, road racing is where we can earn a few quid now whether it’s start money or prize money but I won’t earn a penny this year.”
“Don’t get me wrong, there’ll be people in a worse position than me but there’s no help for road racers this year. We’re just another number. At the end of the day, riding motorbikes and racing isn’t figuring in any of the government’s decisions – we’re not a big sport like football.
As well as his road racing campaign with Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki, McGuinness was due to contest the Ducati TriOptions Cup but if the season gets the go ahead and racing can re-start, he’s ready to go. And Pete Extance from Bournemouth Kawasaki has indicated to McGuinness that there’ll tackle the roads together next season. But he admits to not knowing how this year will unfold.
“My diary’s normally rammed for the year but it isn’t now and I don’t know when things will start happening again. Everyone’s working flat out to make it happen, obviously, but I think it’s going to be difficult.
“How can you have eight marshals on a post when social distancing is in place, let alone have a full paddock? And no spectators. Half of me wants to see some sort of racing in the UK but half of me wants to just say ‘forget it lads, let’s all come back next year’.”
“If someone was to wave a magic wand and say, we’re definitely going racing in August, great, we’d all know where we stand but it’s all an unknown quantity at present and we’ve got to be patient. Racers are renowned for being selfish though so it doesn’t come easy. This year was a new start for me, even at my age, but I’m fortunate as Pete, Bournemouth Kawasaki and the team are still with me and we’ve already spoken about 2021. I’ll be 49 then so it won’t be any easier but I’ll be having another go.”