Step aside Isle of Man… the Isle of Wight TT is coming through with their Diamond Races! Okay, we’re sorry, we didn’t mean that! The thought of a new road race does get us a little excited though!
I’ve personally never been to the Isle of Wight, but I always get a bit jealous when I hear of people going – and I’ve got more of a reason to now! In October 2021, the 12.4-mile course will be added to the UK Road Racing calendar. It will run alongside other favourites such as, Oliver’s Mount, Ulster GP, North West 200, IOMTT, just to name a few!
What the Isle of Wight Has to Offer
Following in the footsteps of the iconic Isle of Man TT, the ‘Diamond Races’, for reasons we’re yet to discover. Before we get into what exactly to expect from this exciting new concept from CEO & Co-Owner Paul Stanford and another Co-Owner James Kaye, let’s look at what the Isle of Wight offers us currently.
The Island is commonly known to be a tourism hotspot, thanks to its gloriously beautiful beaches, and warm and welcoming vibe that hits you as soon as you leave the ferry. The Isle of Wight isn’t very well known within the automotive industry. Although it is often confused with the Isle of Man TT, it’s probably just going to get more confusing now, to be honest! “Oh, remember when Michael Dunlop won the Isle of Wight TT last year?”… “No, that was the Isle of Man TT!”… Who knows!
The Isle of Wight is also very famous for the popular music festival that has hosted some pretty famous artists over the years. Since 1968 the stage has brought us various acts; such as, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Hendrix, and Bryan Adams. In more recent years we’ve seen the likes of, The Killers, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Calvin Harris, and the Gallagher Brothers – on separate occasions, of course.
About The Team – and How The Diamond Races Came About!
Like we said earlier, we still don’t know where the name came from. However, what we can tell you is that this is definitely not a new idea. There has been talk about the Isle of Man hosting a similar event to the Isle of Man TT (first hosted in 1907) since the early 1930’s! There have been various mutters and talks about it one day happening, but nothing has actually come to fruition. Until one day when IOW residents, CEO and Co-Founder Paul Stanford teamed up with Co-Founder, local British Touring Car Racer & Race Originator James Kaye.
They had always dreamed of bringing the motor sport industry to life on the island. So they decided to get a few more people on board:
- Gary Thompson MBE/BEM – Clerk of the Course
- Neil Tuxworth – Team/Rider Liaison, Recruitment Manager & Ex-Honda Racing Manager
- Steve Platter – Rider Liaison, Recruiting & Safety Officer
- Matt Neal – Race Advisor
- Eddy Forster-Knight CBE – Chief Operating Officer
- Steve Legg – Chief Technical Officer
- William Parry – Commercial Officer
Speaking with Bennetts, the team claim to soon be having a meeting to discuss the safety implements that will be taking place prior to the event. The temporary removal of lamp posts, barriers and more will be considered for the safety of the riders.
About the Route
Organizers say that the chosen route was a strong contender between 3 other options. The racers will be taking on the Chale Course. This will take them on a journey through Southern Isle of Wight towns; such as, Chale, Kingston, Shorwell, and Brightstone.
In a YouTube video, racing Icon James Hillier took on the Course with Steve Platter, where he described the route as being “pretty, pretty good”, with a “little bit of everything”, featuring the “high speed Military Road, some real nice combinations, with corners through the farms and narrow roads…”. James claims the course to be a challenge and feels like he has a bit of a head start… you can watch the video for yourself below. Oh, and the Isle of Man TT have posted it!
The Military Road, that Hillier talks about is well known by the residents of the island. It is often taken on by road users as an iconic road, so it’s no surprise that the included the 5-mile stretch of excitement to the map.
When will The Diamond Races take place?
This might confuse a few – but, the races will actually take place in October 2021. It is scheduled to take place a week after the closure of British Super Bikes where the closing ceremony usually takes place at Brands Hatch. Affectionately known as an “End of Season Celebration”, there are a couple of reasons why it’s going to be happening in October.
Firstly, just think, the riders are likely to be booked up! So, just when they’re expecting to be booking holidays, Paul and his team are nagging them away from the airport, and onto the boat. Secondly, the Isle of Wighters will be looking to benefit from their economy by extending the tourism calendar.
What We Can Expect
During the first year, you can expect to find 2 rounds of racing from Superbikes and Super Sports to Super Twins in a TT format. Held in a similar schedule to the North West 200, the Diamond Races will hold their practice sessions on a Wednesday and Thursday, with the races happening on a Saturday.
There have been some weather concerns with the event being held on in October – Bennetts spoke to the organizers who say “if it doesn’t happen on Saturday, we’ve always got Sunday!” (or something like that). Let’s hope one of the days are dry!
There have also been some talks about 2022! The organizers have been looking to implement Electric Bikes into the next year, along with Sidecars too – but there’s going to be a demo show of those in 2021!
Another exciting feature that the organizers are bringing to the race is the opportunity for motorcyclists to take on the circuit themselves in a ‘mass participation’. Here, you can get the chance to follow world famous racers around the circuit before, or after the racing – we’re not sure when yet! If you fancy a little drive around on google street view – we’ve made a map here!
About the App!
Since we’re entering the digital world more and more year by year, Paul and the team have fully embraced this. They understand that visitors will more than likely be using their phones to access around the island when they get here. With this in mind, they’ve started to plan an app that will feature local restaurants, bars, hotels, general info for the event, along with exclusive feature videos and interviews.
They’ve also noticed that there will be a variety of people who will not be able to access the island due to capacity and other things. For those interested, they can download the app and watch the event LIVE! There’s no talk about price yet, but regardless, it makes us very curious!
How do I get there?
If you’ve been to the Isle of Wight before, then this doesn’t apply – you probably know more than me! For those of us who haven’t (yes, I’m including myself in that category), you won’t find an airport on the Isle of Wight, you might find a helicopter spot, so if that’s you’re thing then go ahead.
Unfortunately for me, I only like planes, I hate boats so I’ll have to brave this one, because it’s the only way! Wight Link is the primary ferry that people seem to use, but Red Funnel is another one. Most ferries depart from Southampton. At the moment prices for ferries start from £50, but who knows what they’ll be when the diamond drops!
Where do I stay?
We Buy Any Bike are staying ahead of the game on this one! Here are some options of hotels & Campsites in and around the course. We don’t know if they’ll be able to open when the event actually happens, but it’s worth a check first!
What do the public think?
As expected, there are various mixed opinions on this matter. Of course, bikers are pretty anxious with the promised 2018 Welsh RR that never happened. Many motorcyclists on social media believe that the whole event isn’t going to happen! However, we can only hope, and only time will tell!
In the media, Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely has shown a strong opposition to the idea. In the local newspaper, County Press, Seely expressed his concerns for cyclists and horses. They often make use of the Military Road for access and leisure. Aside from this, he didn’t show any confidence in the thought of the lead up and aftermath of the event. Seely believed that motorcyclists would use the route as a form of a tourist attraction on their bikes.
There were a few internet users who supported the MP’s fears, expressing their own concerns about noise pollution.
What do we think?
Obviously, we’re with the bikers of the Isle of Wight. We’re jealous that they don’t have to travel all the way from Northern England to attend!
We think this will be great for the economy of the island. In agreement with a comment that Bennetts posted, the Isle of Wight Music Festival is an enclosed event with pop-up bars and temporary staff. The Diamond Races will, without a doubt, be great for the independent hospitality industries on the island. Oh, and I know, I keep referencing Bennetts… but they did a great interview!
Will you be attending the Diamond Races?! Let us know below!
Please let me know if I’ve missed out any areas where I’ve mixed up the Isle of Wight with the Isle of Man – I’ve had to amend the post a fair few times to say the least!