The Isle of Wight TT / Diamond Races motorcycling race comes to the Island in 2021.
If you’ve never been a biker, you probably don’t realise quite how massive the Isle of Man TT is in the biking world – it’s a Mecca.
From next year, the Isle of Wight will be hoping to grab a slice of that action with the launch of what one Superbike rider told News OnTheWight was a “spectacular” circuit, that “exceeds expectations” and has “a little bit of everything” – including a 200mph+ section.
The Isle of Wight’s first TT
The Diamond Races is an all-new motorcycle road racing festival, featuring some of the top names in the sport and expected to attract around 50,000 people, extending the Island’s summer season.
The Isle of Wight’s first TT is looking likely to be held on 13th-17th October 2021 (at the end of the 2021 British Superbike calendar), with a 12.4 mile-long course in the south of the Isle of Wight playing host to the event.
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The event will see competitors complete time trials through the villages of Chale, Kingston, Shorwell and Brighstone, before hitting a five-mile stretch of the Military Road.
There’ll be Superbikes, Supersport and lightweight bikes taking part, as well as demo rides of sidecar racing, not to mention an electric category in the future.
For the 2021 races you can expect telemetry about the bikes and riders, as organisers say they plan to make the races “as digital as they can be”.
Years of hard work, dedication and planning
The Races are the brainchild of two Isle of Wight residents (James Kaye and Paul Sandford) and has support from the Isle of Wight council.
CEO and co-founder, Paul (pictured above), who presented the idea to the Cabinet in the early stages of planning, said,
“As an Isle of Wight local resident, I am very excited to welcome motorsport fans from across the globe to this beautiful Island, for what is sure to be an unforgettable weekend of racing action and entertainment for the whole family.
“The Diamond Races is the culmination of years of hard work, dedication and planning by the whole team, and we’re very lucky to have the best of the best involved with its setup. No stone is being left unturned in striving to deliver a spectacular event which we have every reason to believe will be a regular back-stop to the Island’s tourist season and put the Isle of Wight on the international motorcycle road racing map.”
The ‘Dream Team’
Described to News OnTheWight by a motorcycling trade magazine journalist as the ‘Dream Team’, those involved include the man in charge of safety at the Isle of Man TT, former British car championship drivers, as well as a past Isle of Man TT Senior winner and ex-British Champion.
The key players include Gary Thompson MBE (Isle of Man TT Clerk of the Course), Steve Plater (past Isle of Man TT Senior winner and ex British Champion), Neil Tuxworth (ex-Honda Racing Manager) as well as James Kaye (exBritish Touring Car Championship driver and Diamond Races co-founder) and Matt Neal (three-time British Touring Car Champion and Honda UK ambassador).
Meticulous attention paid to safety
The safety of the riders, spectators and officials is paramount to the organisers and the race meeting will be run under strict event regulations stipulated by the sports’ governing body, the ACU (Auto Cycle Union), through which all UK motorcycle sport is administered.
Gary Thompson – who’ll be in charge of safety at the event – has been the Isle of Man TT course manager for the last nine years. He says road safety will be at the heart of the Diamond Races which plans to incorporate a strategy to promote road safety.
What’s happening when
The races will see two days of practice, on the Wednesday and Thursday, as riders get used to the course. Friday will be a rest day and the excitement arrives at the weekend, with Saturday being race day.
Although not confirmed yet, Sunday may include some limited public riding (in a controlled way).
In 2021, there are expected to be somewhere between 30-36 riders, with the bikes setting off from the start line every ten seconds.
The best of three possible courses
There were three courses originally proposed, but the final selection in the south includes fast (the Military Road) and technical sections (through the villages) providing some great challenges for the riders.
The road surface was found to be excellent, but before the races can take place there are 2,500 white lines that need to be treated, 177 manhole covers will be coated for safety, the removal of 1,500 cats eyes, as well as a small number of telegraph poles as they are in the direct line of bikes on some of the challenging sections of the course.
Walls will be protected, all road signage will be removed beforehand and returned after the event, as well as the cats eyes and telegraph poles.
There will be two race villages and a whopping 80 marshalling points along the course, with plans for pop-up campsites and spectator points along the Military Road.
How much to put on?
Clearly putting an event on like this isn’t cheap, so News OnTheWight asked the team how it was being funded.
To date it’s been self-funded, but the cost of putting on the event would be between £2-5m. Organisers say they are in the process of securing funds.
Find out more
Residents on the course were informed by letter on Tuesday of the plans, with the founders offering more details over the coming months of how they plan to work with them.
Look out for upcoming News OnTheWight podcasts with several members of the Diamond Races team.
You can find out more by visiting the official Diamond Races Website.
2.30pm 29th Jul 2020 – Dates changed from 14th-18th to 13th-17th