Over 1,400 TT fans have already cast their vote in a poll to discover the greatest TT rider of all time. The search takes in riders from almost every era of the Isle of Man TT’s 110-plus year history from pre war hero Stanley Woods to current stars such as Michael Dunlop and Ian Hutchinson. The results of the public vote will be announced on a special programme made by new TT TV host broadcasters Greenlight Television, to be aired on ITV4 at 9.00pm on Monday, 28th May.
Fans wanting to take part in the poll can do so by visiting iomtt.com/vote, reviewing the videos of the top twenty suggestions and submitting their choice, or nominating another name if they feel they have been overlooked. The question of ‘greatest’ TT rider of all time is a sticky one that has been debated for almost as long as the races have been run.
Some names on the list will be very familiar to fans of the TT: such as John McGuinness, Ian Lougher, Bruce Anstey, David Jefferies, David Molyneux and the previously mentioned Hutchinson and Dunlop – all of whose achievements speak for themselves. Other names from the TT’s past need little introduction to today’s audience, especially Joey Dunlop whose 26 wins makes him the most successful TT rider ever.
Carl Fogarty and close rival Steve Hislop are well remembered for the record-breaking clashes the pair engendered in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s culminating in arguably the greatest race in TT history, the 1992 Senior TT Race, which saw Hislop win by just four seconds despite Fogarty setting a new absolute lap record on the final lap.
Again, Mike Hailwood and great rival Giacomo Agostini are names that no TT spectator can fail to recognise. Two supreme talents that lit up the Mountain Course in the 1960s and provided equally spectacular entertainment to Foggy and Hizzy’s later antics. Hailwood’s comeback in 1978 sealed his reputation with another generation of TT lovers and will make him a strong contender.
Dubliner Stanley Woods took an early lead in the ‘greatest ever’ battle by becoming the first man to win 10 TT races, a figure not eclipsed until Mike Hailwood’s ascendency in the 1960s.
Before Mike ‘the Bike’ hit the roads, two formidable competitors stake strong claims to last fame at the TT in the early years of it being the most prestigious race on the World Championship calendar: Geoff Duke’s sublime style and innovative approach contrasted strongly with pugnacious Glaswegian Bob McIntyre. Duke had more success and renown but McIntyre took the coveted 100mph lap record.
Uniquely, John Surtees followed up his incredible success at the TT and in motorcycle world championships by becoming the only man to date to also win a Formula One World Championship. Phil Read’s long career saw him racing against Mike Hailwood in the 1960s and still being on the scene when Hailwood made his famous return in 1978 – indeed Phil was Mike’s closest challenger in that 1978 Formula 1 TT Race.
When Agostini’s career took him in a different direction, Charlie Williams was just on the rise. Through the 1970s he notched up a formidable tally of 8 wins, when just finishing the race on fragile two-strokes was an achievement in itself.
Although David Molyneux will be the most familiar sidecar name on the list it is hard to forget just what a competitor Rob Fisher was: from 14 finishes he took ten wins and three second places. With the option to vote for other riders not mentioned on the top twenty list, voters have the chance to add names such as Harold Daniell, Jim Moodie, Bill Ivy, Adrian Archibald, Jimmy Guthrie, Jimmy Simpson, Freddie Frith or anyone else they feel deserves the accolade. The poll, at iomtt.com/vote, is open until 01:00am on April 1st. The results will be declared on ITV4 from 9.00pm on Monday, 28th May.