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Multiple TT winner who has ‘never been able to train’

By James Driver-Fisher | Grassroots | Published:

Motorbike royalty descended on Shropshire as two of the finest racers ever to grace the sport held an evening of chat with plenty of banter, insight and memories.

John McGuinness and Michael Rutter, both aged 45, delighted some 180 excited fans when they spoke freely about their illustrious careers at the Royal Oak in Alveley, near Bridgnorth.

McGuinness, from Morecambe, is a 23-time winner at the Isle of Man TT races and sits second in the overall table of winners, with only the late, great Joey Dunlop having won more.

Meanwhile Rutter, who now lives in Alveley, is a 14-time winner of the North West 200 and holds a record eight Macau GP wins.

And with the pair having known each other since 1991, the two greats have crossed each other’s paths on many occasions.

McGuinness suffered an horrendous leg injury at this year’s North West, which could possibly prematurely end his career.

But always a people-pleaser, he has been busy visiting club, circuit and road race meetings this year – and admitted being happy to have “flogged a few copies” of his autobiographies at the Royal Oak last Tuesday night.

McGuinness, speaking about his long friendship and rivalry with Rutter, said: “We’ve known each other since 1991 when we were racing in the Superteens series.

“Michael had a slightly different career to me and I remember in 1994 watching him at the TT wobbling with his feet off the foot-pedals but we’ve been on the track together for a lot of years.”

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Rutter admitted the pair had not really shared a cross word – apart from one ‘minor fallout’ when racing as teammates.

“We were racing with the Honda TT Legends during the endurance series in France when I had a bad crash,” he said.

“John was trying to convince me I hadn’t broken my leg, when I clearly had. I was turning pale and he was just taking pictures off me on the floor.”

Honesty and modesty is something that runs through the veins of road racers – although both have also had their fair share of success on the circuits.

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And that shone through when McGuinness spoke openly and honestly about his career.

“My biggest regret was probably not signing for Norton last year after what happened on the Honda at the North West because they offered me a lot of money,” he said.

“But my biggest downfall over the years, in all honesty, has always been being a bit of a fatty.

“I suppose being called that is funny at first, then it starts grating on you – but a six-pack is not going to help when you’re flat out at the TT. You need a big pair of balls for that.”

Rutter added: “If John had done lots of training he could have entered the MotoGPs but you’ve got to be yourself doing this.

“John has just enjoyed himself - mainly though eating.

“I remember when I finished second or third once at the TT and Niall Mackenzie came over to me and asked me what I was doing.

“When I explained I was going straight to be pub he could not believe it because he didn’t drink from January to Christmas.

“That’s just what some racers need to do but I’m just terrible really and have never been able to train.

“Going to the gym is the worst thing in the world.

“We were both able to have a bit of drink, get on a bike and then win races – we were quite lucky to have got away with it really.”

McGuinness added: “I feel we’re probably the last of the generation who could really have a laugh and do both.”

James Driver-Fisher

By James Driver-Fisher

Entertainment and food reviewer for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star

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