John McGuinness: To match Joey's record would be icing on the cake
Could this be the year?
John McGuinness would be forgiven for being sick of talking about it but the Morecambe Missile is now within striking distance of the late, great Joey Dunlop’s record of 26 Isle of Man TT wins.
The resort racer won twice in 2015, the electric Zero TT and the blue riband Senior TT, meaning he sits three behind his hero on 23 wins ahead of his 20th year storming round the Mountain Course.
“People asked me at 19 wins and I was like, you’re joking?” said McGuinness.
“But at 23 we’re not far away now. I’ve been nibbling away at it.
“Now it’s in striking distance it would be the icing on the cake for everything to achieve what Joey achieved.
“To match him on the most famous track in the world it would just be really, really cool.”
Despite plenty of comparisons between the pair on the Isle of Man McGuinness insists their racing careers aren’t like for like.
“I’ve always said that there’s Joey Dunlop and there’s John McGuinness,” said the 44-year-old.
“We might get to the same amount of wins but I will never achieve what Joey achieved.
“Joey’s was five times a world champion, I will never be a world champion.
“Joey won on a 125cc bike. If I jumped on a 125 it would go up backside.
“I would’t be able to ride one, I’m too big, I’m too heavy.
“He had a bit more of a spread of a career and hundreds of wins in Ireland.
“Joey stands out a bit more. Maybe I didn’t have the opportunities he did, I don’t know.”
More than anything McGuinness is pleased this year to have the blessing of the Dunlop family, beliving his former team mate would have been the first to congratulate him had he still been around.
“I’ve had a few threats, I don’t know if they’re serious or a joke!” he said.
“There’s been a few paddies with glints in their eyes saying ‘you better not beat Joey’s record’.
“I have thought the kneecaps might be gone at this rate.
“There is a lot who say, ‘get on, we’d like to see you do it’ though.
“The one nice thing is the family have given me the thumbs up, his missus and his kids.
“I think the first person to shake my hand if he was still here would be Joey Dunlop.
“I know he would, I just know he would.
“He wouldn’t be bitter about it, he never was about anything.
“He will have felt like I do at the moment, When he passed the great Mike Hailwood on 14 wins and went on to win lots more I remember him telling me that he thought people might not like him for it.
“That’s how I feel. I respected him and he was my hero.”
Despite all the talk, all the questions and all the build up beating Dunlop’s record isn’t everything for McGuinness.
“If I don’t win another one though it doesn’t matter,” he said.
“I ain’t going to kill myself to try and get it.
“I’m just going to do what I do. There’s not a right lot more I can give.
“If it doesn’t happen it won’t matter.”