‘WHEN THE HIRE CAR HIT 175KPH I THOUGHT “IF THIS MAKES IT BACK, IT’S A MIRACLE”’


by Bauer Xcel |
‘WHEN THE HIRE CAR HIT 175KPH I THOUGHT “IF THIS MAKES IT BACK, IT’S A MIRACLE”’

By the time you read this I’ll have raced at the Phillip Island Classic. It’s one of my favourite events of the year. There’s so much that I love about it, from the track, which is so fast, flowing and exciting, to the competition, which has great riders, like Jeremy McWilliams, Glen Richards, Shawn Giles and Cameron Donald. The bikes are awesome too – there are XJ1200s, Katanas and all manner of grunty, air-cooled stuff being shunted around at mind-boggling pace. Proper. Best of all is the weather – it’s 35 degrees there which will be a relief after all the flooding and shit weather in Morecambe.

‘WHEN THE HIRE CAR HIT 175KPH I THOUGHT “IF THIS MAKES IT BACK, IT’S A MIRACLE”’

It’s been a funny old start to the year in the McGuinnness house. Normally New Year is a bit insane and generally ends up with someone surfing down the stairs on a tray and clattering through the front door. This year it was far more cultural. Or at least should have been.

My lad Ewan is really into his history and has been chipping away at us to go to Rome. Rome is such an impressive place, mind-boggling if you think about it. They had aqueducts bringing fresh water into the city, drains, toilets, underfloor heating, cavity walls, the works. In London we were still throwing buckets of shit out of our windows in the 15th and 16th centuries, which puts it all into context. To drive in Rome you basically just need to turn into a total twat – it’s full-on dodgems or you ain’t getting anywhere. I picked up the keys for the hire car and the chap gave me the piece of paper that they mark with a cross to show any damage. Well, I looked at the car and said “are you serious?”

‘WHEN THE HIRE CAR HIT 175KPH I THOUGHT “IF THIS MAKES IT BACK, IT’S A MIRACLE”’

It looked like it had been in a Mad Max film, there wasn’t a single straight panel on it. The chap got his pen out again and basically covered the sheet in crosses! It was a case of as long as you return it with fuel in the tank, fair play. The streets in Rome are cobbled, so it’s like driving on a motocross track, and the local nutters are flat-out on big scooters with those ridiculous aprons covering up their posh clothes. They reckon the locals don’t leave their handbrakes on when they park so they can just shove cars out of the way to fit in, which I well believe. I went into full mad mode behind the wheel; with the missus screaming and Maisie whooping. After Rome we had a trip to Pompeii in the hire car, which was flat-stick all the way. I didn’t lift all the way and the poor Punto, which didn’t have enough power to pull your dick straight, was screaming its head off. When it hit 175kph I honestly thought ‘if this makes it back it will be a miracle.’

What they had in Pompeii was really special. Obviously it all ended badly, but I had to chuckle as they even had a brothel with writing on the wall about what services you could order! Imagine that, you are up to your back wheels when Mount Vesuvius volcano goes off – what do you do? Personally I’d carry on and get the last stroke in before it all got a bit hot...

Before Christmas I headed over to Belfast for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. I didn’t get a mention, but I did make it onto TV. Moto3 champ Danny Kent was supposed to be sat next to Gordon Shedden, the touring car driver. I know Gordon, so I sat next to him as I knew Danny wasn’t there. It turned out the BBC didn’t know this and Gary Lineker did a double-take as the camera panned onto me – the world must have thought Danny Kent had let himself go a bit over Christmas...

‘WHEN THE HIRE CAR HIT 175KPH I THOUGHT “IF THIS MAKES IT BACK, IT’S A MIRACLE”’

Did you see Rossi commenting on my TT lap on Twitter? How cool is that? I posted a video of the record breaking first lap from the 2015 Senior TT. He invited me out to his ranch to take part in a 100km race. I’m absolutely gutted as it’s the same day I fly out to Phillip Island to race in the Classic. That said it’s probably for the best; can you imagine the reaction if I T-boned him on a hairpin? I’d never make it out of Italy alive!

Finally, how good is it that they have added a Lightweight class to the Classic TT for 2016? I’ve still got the 250 record of 118.29mph, set in 1999 when I took my first TT win, and I reckon my Vimto Honda TSR250 will be up for the job. PB did a feature on it a while ago and while it’s not my actual 1999 machine, it’s probably even better. Blandy did a cracking job on rebuilding the engine and I reckon it could even top the record with modern tyres on it. Although I’ll probably need a new set of leathers, I’m not sure I could get a leg in the ones I wore in 1999...

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