WITH all eyes on the world’s most famous motorcycle race it would be remiss to go without some TT Top 10s.
And where better to start than with the riders? So in a list which admittedly could very soon need updating, here are the top 10 TT riders of all time according to number of race wins.
10: Giacomo Agostini (10 wins)
There aren’t many top 10s of motorcycle racers that list Giacomo Agostini as low as 10th – and in many ways his achievements at the TT are no less impressive than his other racing statistics. In terms of total wins, his 10 matches several other riders – Ian Lougher, Stanley Woods and Rob Fisher all managed to reach double figures – but few riders can claim such an impressive win ratio. Ago reached the podium in every TT that he ever finished. His 10 wins are joined by two seconds and a lone third place. And that’s it. In total he entered 16 TT races. He didn’t finish in three and podiumed in 13.
9: Phillip McCallen (11 wins)
McCallen also finished on the podium more often than not, with 19 top-three results from 35 finishes. Eleven of them were wins. His 1996 season in particular remained in the record books for years thanks to wins in four of the five big races. Only in 2010 when Ian Hutchinson took five wins out of five was that achievement topped.
8: Steve Hislop (11 wins)
Matching McCallen’s 11 wins, Hislop was the first man to top 120mph. He’ll always be remembered for his ride on the Wankel rotary-powered Norton in the 1992 Senior TT, snatching victory just four seconds ahead of Carl Fogarty’s Loctite Yamaha OW01.
7: Bruce Anstey (11 wins)
Anstey came into the 2016 TT matching Ago at 10 wins – before taking his 11th in yesterday’s TT Zero race. The Flying Kiwi is also high on the all-time finishers' list, with some 60 races to his name. He’s finished on the podium in most of them.
6: Michael Dunlop (12 wins)
On 11 wins coming into the 2016 TT, Dunlop secured his 12th in Saturday’s RST Superbike race, making history with a new lap record of 133.393mph. While he’s raced at the TT since 2007 and took his first win back in 2009 (followed by single victories in 2011 and 2012), it was 2013 that really saw his career take off. With four wins from the first four races, he looked set to match Hutchinson’s 2010 record but was beaten to second place in the Senior. He took four wins again in 2014. A barren 2015 dominated by DNFs wasn’t representative of his ability.
5: Mike Hailwood (14 wins)
You can’t mention the TT without talking about Mike Hailwood. His 1978 comeback victory on the Ducati 900SS after 11 years away from the TT is one of motorcycling’s most famous tales. He took another win in 1979, but 12 of his 14 victories were in the 1960s when he simply dominated, as proved by the fact that he only ever came second once and third four times at the TT, as well as a smattering of non-podium finishes, most of them early in his career. With only 27 finishes to his name, the number of wins looks all the more impressive.
4: Ian Hutchinson (14 wins)
Coming into the 2016 event Ian Hutchinson’s win record stood at 11, matching Hizzy and McCallen - but he’s jumped up the list with an incredible three wins so far, in both Supersport races as well as the Superstock. With only Friday’s Senior TT left, and three wins between him and the next rider on this list, he can’t climb any higher this year. We can only speculate on how many victories Hutchy might have under his belt by now if he hadn’t suffered that terrible leg injury in 2010. His five-in-a-row achievement in the TT earlier that year, winning all the main solo classes apart from the TT Zero, seems unlikely to be beaten for a long time.
3: Dave Molyneux (17 wins)
Even two-wheeled fans who normally ignore sidecar racing will put aside their prejudices when it comes to the TT, and there’s no question that the sidecars are just as terrifying to watch when lapping the Isle of Man. Molyneux is a piece of IoM history, racing there for 30 years. His 17 wins are all the more impressive when you remember that there are only two sidecar races at each TT. Molyneux and Dan Sayle were unable to start in Saturday’s Sidecar race because of a technical issue but he could still raise his wins to 18 in race two on Friday. With three places between him and the next rider on this list, it wouldn’t change the order.
2: John McGuinness (23 wins)
With 23 wins to his name coming into 2016, McGuinness must surely have his eye on the overall number-one spot. But he’s not going to get there this year after only making the top three in one out of five races so far, Saturday’s Superbike event. His best hope is to add to his incredible tally with a victory in Friday’s senior TT – but he’d still be a non-mover on the list. McGuinness’ first victory came back in 1999 and rarely has a year gone by since when he hasn’t added to that total. As well as his astounding number of victories, he is the first man to have managed a 130mph lap – nearly a decade ago now, in 2007 – and still held the outright lap record coming into the 2016 event.
1: Joey Dunlop (26 wins)
You didn’t really need to read this far to know that Joey was the most successful TT rider of all time, did you (especially since Joey's statue at Snaefell on the TT course is at the top of this list)? And one suspects that even if his record of 26 wins is ever broken, Dunlop will still be the most popular rider ever to have lapped the Isle of Man. First racing there in 1976, he won the 1977 Jubilee TT and was still winning in 2000. In his last year, aged 48, he took the Lightweight and Ultra Lightweight victories and a surprise win in the Formula One race. It had been five years since he’d won on a big bike, although he’d been dominant on larger machines in the 1980s, and many had written off his chances. Still showing no signs of retiring, he died racing in Estonia just a few weeks later. How many more TTs could he have won?