Isle of Man TT attendance flat - and dangerous

TT round up from our man on the island. Including one racer who has been convicted of assault and actual bodily harm.

Despite early reports that bookings were up for the 2008 TT following the huge success of the centennial event last year, attendance in fact appears to have dropped straight back to the 2006 level.

Isle of Man Steam Packet figures for ferry traffic show that the number of motorcycles shipped to the Island for the festival actually fell by 70 from 9625 in 2006 to 9555 this year. However, the passenger total was up marginally by 247 against 2006 to 31,038. Vehicle numbers also rose slightly on the 2006 figure, from 4359 to 4556.

Manx retailers, hoteliers and campsite operators also claim that TT fans spent much less time on the Island than either last year or even in 2006, with many reverting to just a'long weekend'.

Mount Murray Brewery boss Martin Brunnschweiler, who runs the big Bushy's beer tent and entertainment zone on Douglas Promenade during the TT fortnight, says the event was 'quiet' with sales well below target.

The 2008 TT was also the bloodiest for some time in terms of visitor fatalities, with four bikers killed in separate accidents. There was only one death last year and none in 2006. The Manx police say they were mainly caused by people 'riding beyond their abilities'.

Guzzi-mounted Frenchman Christian Roulie was the first terminal casualty when he hit a Land Rover head-on at the 11th Milestone while overtaking a car on Mad Sunday. He was joined the following day by Danish rider Klaus Kristensen, collided with Ford Transit van coming the other way.

On Tuesday of race week Liam Parrish from Louth was involved in yet another collision at Alpine, this time with another bike. He died two days later in Noble's Hospital. And on Thursday, a GSX-R1000 ridden by Neil Edge from Stoke-on-Trent collided an MV Agusta at Hailwood Rise on the one-way Mountain section of the course. Edge was killed instantly. The un-named MV rider was seriously hurt.

On a more cheerful note, no TT competitor was killed during this year's practice sessions or races, with only one serious injury. The most famous minor casualty was 74-year-old trials legend and former road racer Sammy Miller, who comprehensively binned his bike at Waterworks during the Ducati parade lap.

Sidecar TT ace Dave Molyneux also badly injured his reputation. Molyneux drowned his sorrows big-style after defeat by Nicky Crowe in the second sidecar race, went back to his motor home in the paddock and beat the shit out of his wife Gaynor. He was subsequently convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm and awaits sentencing. Happily, Mrs Molyneux has agreed to have him back.