In the wake of two deaths during the 2010 Isle of Man TT, 1987 500cc Grand Prix World Champion Wayne Gardner has demanded the event is banned 'now'.
In a post on the Wayne Gardner Approved website apparently made by the Australian hero, he labels the Mountain course a 'death trap', claiming inexperienced riders are attracted by the 'substantial' prize money on offer and it only continues because of the income it brings to the Isle of Man.
The 50-year-old, who retired from Grand Prix racing at the end of the 1992 season, said the 'rewards are just not worth the annual cost in lives' and the 'whole event needs to be consigned to history'.
His views are at odds with some modern Grand Prix riders – Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Loris Capirossi, who have all lapped the course in the past two years, have described the course as thrilling and spoken of having the utmost respect for road racers who take on the challenge.
During the 2010 TT, New Zealand's Paul Dobbs and Austria's Martin Loicht lost their lives in crashes during the second Supersport race, one of eight races held during the fortnight on the 37.73-mile public road course. Top road racers Guy Martin and Conor Cummins both suffered heavy crashes in the final race of the festival, the Senior TT, and while Manxman Cummins is still recovering and unlikely to return to racing this season, Martin is due to compete again on Tuesday.
Gardner is quoted on the website as saying:
“After yet two more tragic deaths at this year's Isle of Man TT, I simply can't understand why this tradition is allowed to continue. The whole event needs to be consigned to history. It needs to be banned. Now!”
“Since the event started in 1907, 229 riders have lost their lives competing at that death trap. Now here we are in 2010, all supposedly dedicated to improving rider safety and reducing fatalities, and this race is still allowed to run.”
“The problem is the substantial prize money on offer. Not surprisingly, riders who don't go so well on closed circuits in the UK see a great opportunity to head over and collect quite a lot of money. To me, that's insanity. It's just too big a carrot for inexperienced riders.”
“I would have thought it was time to knock this event on the head fifty years ago, but scandalously local government and the police somehow allow it to continue. I know it brings in a lot of tourism dollars for the area, but these rewards are just not worth the annual cost in lives.”
“While I never actually raced at the TT, I had a good chance to learn the circuit in the early '80s when I was riding for Moriwaki. Basically there's no room for error. On a course that long, you cannot possibly remember every corner, every braking point or every change in elevation or direction.”
“You also can't control the potential risks - houses, gutters, lampposts, trees, stone walls, cats, dogs, horses. There are so many variables."
"It's just crazy.”