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Riders coming to terms with second TT cancellation

Road racers are once again coming to terms with the fact Covid has forced the biggest event on the calendar to be cancelled for the second year running.

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Not since the Second World War has the Isle of Man TT been called off for consecutive years.

But with the Manx government still very concerned about fans and riders spreading the disease across the small island, the decision was made last week to cancel the world's most famous road race in 2021.

One of the most popular riders to have grace the iconic 37.73-mile circuit is Brierley Hill-born Michael Rutter, who will now be 50 years old when the TT returns again in 2022.

Rutter, who has seven TT wins to his name, concentrates more on road racing these days, rather than the circuits, so was understandably gutted to miss out on racing on the island for a second-straight year.

Passenger Andy Haynes, from Walsall, who competes in the Sidecar TT races and Cannock-based OMG Racing, who had been hoping to back TT winner James Hillier in both 2020 and 2021, will also be missing out once more.

But all were philosophical about the decision and the chance for the two-week festival of motorcycle racing to return bigger and better than ever before.

Rutter said: "We thought we might be able to aim at racing the TT in 2021 but it's completely out of our hands.

"It's a bit worrying but until things start really getting back to normal we can't get our hopes up for anything at the moment.

"But it's not the end of the world and it's two weeks out of my life, when you look at the bigger picture. I actually think it will come back stronger too."

Haynes said following the TT's cancellation, he was already planning for racing in 2022.

"Clearly I'm gutted, but at least a decision has been made early and that means plans and investment can spent on other racing," he said.

"I can understand that an island with such an infrastructure just couldn't justify the risks of Covid, as the TT could bring 40,000 plus visitors.

"I do worry for the sectors of the island's economy, which rely on TT income.

"Hopefully travel access to the island will improve next year so at least some tourist income can be secured for the island. But for now, we're planning for TT 2022."

OMG Racing, in a statement, added: "We are of course disappointed to hear that the 2021 Isle of Man TT races has been cancelled, but given the current global situation it’s understandable.

"Everyone at RICH Energy OMG Racing has been looking forward to taking on the TT since we first announced our roads team at the end of 2019.

"Thank you to the Isle of Man Government and TT organisers for all the hard work they have done to try and make 2021 possible. We’ll be looking forward to 2022.”

A decision is yet to be made on the North West 200, in Northern Ireland, where Rutter sits third on the all-time winners board, as well as the Classic TT and Manx GP, which are both raced around the same 37.73-mile circuit.

Rutter and the rest of the Black Country-based Bathams Racing team will also be back competing on the under card of the British Superbike series – as part of a two-rider team – in the National Superstock 1000 championships – and, possibly, in front of fans for the first time since March.

"With the TT being cancelled, it might mean I look at more circuit racing but a lot of how the British Superbikes championship pans out, I feel, will depend on whether fans are allowed in next year," he said.

"The hardest part is it is impossible to plan for anything at the moment but we'll be hoping to push for the British Superstock 1000 title next year.

"There is hope, if both can take place later in the year, the riders may still be able to compete in 2021 but like all sporting events at present, everything remains very much up in the air.

"We're so lucky to have Bathams as our main sponsor and we're also getting help from BMW again this year.

"It's just me and my mechanic, Alec, who are full time at Bathams Racing so it's not like we're got to look after 20-odd people.

"Alex is furloughed until next year at the moment so it's just me. My main job is trying to get some sponsors in, constant phone calls.

"We don't start until later next year so that will give up more time to prepare but it will be February before we really start getting into things.

"We are 90 per cent there with the electrics on the BMWs this year too so we hope to be in a better position for the 2021 campaign but there's not a lot of testing going during winter."

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