ASK ANY casual TT fan who the most successful rider is and the chances are they’ll know the answer (if you don’t, the top 10 best riders are listed here).
But what about manufacturers? Which companies have reaped the greatest rewards, and made the greatest efforts, at the TT?
We’ve based our analysis around the figures up to and including 2016.
10: Aermacchi – 18 wins
Not a name that rings many bells these days, Aermacchi appears to be one of the few defunct bike brands that hasn’t been subject to a retro revival attempt. The firm’s strongest period was the 50s and 60s, often in the 250cc and 350cc classes.
9. AJS – 19 wins
These days the AJS name appears on a range of Chinese-made scooters and bikes but the firm’s illustrious heritage includes decades of TT involvement going right back to the earliest days of the event.
8. Triumph – 21 wins
Given that the TT has been around for well over a century, it’s surprising that all the remaining manufacturers on our list are still around today. Triumph is one of the rare bike companies that can claim to be even older than the TT, and has had success in both its original incarnation and more recently with the Daytona 675.
7. MV Agusta – 34 wins
While there have been recent efforts to race MV Agustas at the TT, the firm’s era of success was from 1952 to 1972. Giacomo Agostini was a big help, aiding MV to 10 of its 34 total victories including its last, which came 20 years after its first win around the TT win.
6. BMW – 36 wins
BMW has had two notable heyday eras at the TT. One was back in the pre-war period, culminating in the first win for a non-British rider when Georg Meier took the laurels at the 1939 event. And then there’s the current era; at the moment there’s little doubt that the BMW S1000RR is among the best possible machines for the TT course.
5. Kawasaki – 42 wins
While Kawasaki has been present at every TT for decades, making its first showing in the 1960s, the firm hasn’t been as successful or as committed to winning as its Japanese rivals. Even so, 41 victories is an impressive total. Since 2012 the fact that Kawasaki ER-6-based twins have dominated the revived Lightweight category – accounting for virtually all the entrants – has helped add to the total. The ZX-10R also won the superstock race in 2015.
4. Norton – 94 wins
The reborn Norton firm has been trying to add to its TT heritage – initially with a rotary-powered machine and then with its Aprilia V4-engined racers – but the company’s successes are in the past. The firm won the very first TT back in 1907 (twin cylinder class, with Rem Fowler riding) and took 10 Senior TT victories between the wars. After WW2 it kept up with the success, winning at least one race every year from 1947 to 1954 remaining regular winners right up to the 70s. After a hiatus, Norton was back with its rotary racers in the early 90s, winning the famous 1992 Senior TT duel between Hislop (Norton) and Fogarty (Yamaha). Even if Norton can’t regain success, it will take a long time for another company to overhaul its 94-win total.
3. Suzuki – 107 wins
Suzuki hasn’t had a lot of recent success on the Isle of Man, but it was among the first Japanese firms to taste champagne at the TT when it won the 1962 50cc race with Ernst Degner. He averaged 75.12mph. Things were moving a bit faster when Pat Hennen achieved the first sub-20-minute lap on a 500cc GP Suzuki 15 years later. Mike Hailwood also took his last victory on a Suzuki back in 1979. The firm went through a very strong patch in the 2000s, but the wins dried up in 2008 and haven’t returned.
2. Yamaha – 232 wins
It’s a big jump from Suzuki’s 107 wins to Yamaha’s 232. So even though the latest R1 hasn’t seen as much success at the Isle of Man as it might have hoped, its second position on this list isn’t at any risk in the near future. Even if success in the big bike classes hasn’t been forthcoming recently, Yamaha was is still a winner in the 600cc supersport category in 2015, taking victory in both races - a feat the R6 repeated this year in the hands in Ian Hutchinson. While its win total is below Honda’s, Yamaha can claim to have had more podium finishes than any other brand with 762 to its name. It’s also finished far more TTs than the next firm – Yamahas have crossed the finish line an amazing 9627 times, more than 3000 more than Honda’s 2nd place figure of 6569.
1. Honda – 255 wins
Of course Honda is at the top of the list. The first Japanese firm to make a serious effort at the TT, Honda was eyed with scepticism when it turned up to the 1958 event. By 1961 it was a winner, with Hailwood helping the firm to the 125cc and 250cc victories that year. Having the best riders was often a Honda knack, and its long association with Joey Dunlop certainly helped the win count during the 1980s and 90s. More recently John McGuinness has taken the responsibility of keeping Honda’s record, and he hasn’t disappointed.