Michael Russell could break under-the-radar record at 2023 Isle of Man TT | road race


This year, with a calendar extended to 10 races, he aims to start each of them to beat his own record of eight races from 2022.

His entry into solo and sidecar racing will give him a unique opportunity – he has already raced three times at this year’s event and also plans to compete in the next seven.

“2020 was going to be the first attempt to do all the shopping, but Covid sabotaged that,” Russell told the BBC.

“You are only allowed to do a certain number of laps in the day but the ACU (the event organisers) looked at it and said we could do it, the schedule they had established for the event allowed it.

“We managed to build a full lineup of bikes and I started all eight races last year, finishing seven of them.

“It was very demanding physically and mentally and I was running on adrenaline at the end of the week.

“Unfortunately a minor technical glitch, a bolt, prevented me from completing the Senior and I was quite emotional about it, I felt really deflated.

“I was in tears when my machine broke down but I regrouped, came back to the paddock and me and my team drank champagne.

“The TT is the toughest challenge for man and machine, so I have no illusions about how difficult it is to finish any given race.”

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Part of the allure of Russell’s record seeking is that he competes in both the solo and sidecar categories.

“Going from small bikes to big bikes is tough,” he said.

“They are very different in terms of how you sit, how you react and the braking markers vary so much.

“Vicky Cooke is my sidecar passenger this year, she’s behind me so she’s my responsibility, and that’s something I take very seriously.

“Driving a solo, you have that suspension, but the hits you take in a sidecar are ridiculous. It requires a different mentality.”

Russell is 42, an RAF serviceman. Gordon Blackley, a fellow military and TT rider, enticed him to compete on the mountain course for the first time.

Russell won the senior Manx Grand Prix in 2009, started racing TT in 2010 and started in sidecars in 2018.

“I know it’s a dangerous event, but that’s part of the thrill,” he said. “We are doing something that not everyone can do.

“The objective is to start every race but also to finish them all.”


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