The positives amid a dismal 2022 Isle of Man TT

Isle of Man TT boss Paul Phillips said there were significant positives to take from the first edition of this year’s historic event in three years, although they are overshadowed by what was a particularly heartbreaking edition of the historic event.

Marred by crashes that saw five competitors lose their lives, it rightly means attention in the immediate aftermath has not been focused on the series of improvements implemented during the two-year COVID hiatus in the racing – but, with safety improvements among the biggest changes made, the Manxman told The Race in an exclusive interview that they have started a path that will make racing safer and more sustainable in the future.

Speaking directly after the conclusion of Saturday’s two-week Senior TT event, Phillips admitted that even by previous standards this year’s event had been difficult for him and his team as they handled no only serious racing incidents, but a number of other unique factors. at TTs ranging from weather rearranging the schedule to sessions red flagged due to bursting water pipes on the track.

“It’s a frustrating way to make a living,” admitted the Manx government worker, “to work in a situation where that can happen. I just need some time away from that now, to clear my head and think about everything and absorb it. I really feel, like no other TT I’ve worked on, that I need space. I didn’t enjoy working on it and I really wanted.

“I didn’t want to take advantage of the event because if you’re having an event you shouldn’t be enjoying it, but I wanted to enjoy working on it. But it was just too intense. I don’t even want to say from the moment we had the incidents, it was all too intense, without a moment of peace or respite for over a month.

“I look forward to resting, eating foods that aren’t highly processed carbs, and spending time with my family who I haven’t seen in so long.

“I seem to be moaning a bit, but so many other people are in the same position, and what I can’t understand is how many people involved in this event are volunteers, playing games. really important roles and are in the same boat.

And therein lies one of the things that makes the TT perhaps unique among large-scale motorsport events. Still an amateur sport that relies on volunteers taking time off from their daily jobs, that means the toll of this tough event isn’t just focused on people like Phillips whose full-time job is to run the event.

“There is a lady named Brenda who works with the teams and families of riders injured or involved in incidents,” he added. “It was her first year this year, and she had to deal with all these major incidents. She’s a volunteer, and what an absolutely amazing woman. I can’t begin to explain it; she’s calm, she has so much empathy, she’s absolutely fantastic.

“And this is just one example of many like her coming together. I don’t know of any other event that has that, that can bring people together like that.

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“I’ve met doctors and paramedics who have had to deal with some really tough stuff, and they do it with great professionalism. It’s really disappointing when people start to criticize the organization and some of the decisions made by it when in the end they are criticizing these people who are A, volunteers and B, in many cases world class in what ‘they do.

“They have to see and deal with things that you and I would never have to do, and it really bugs me when they might think they’re criticizing me, but I don’t make those decisions. I don’t race or make the decisions on the spot. These people are, and from what I see, they almost always make the right decision as well. There will always be a number of factors that the guy or girl on social media won’t fully understand, but that’s life.

But while the harsh toll of the event is the immediate aftermath, there are plenty of Phillips and his team of officials to be quietly content and optimistic after what he previously described to the race as ‘the most big changes never made” to the TT in its 115 year history.

Bringing live television coverage for the first time, increasing viewership, reach and fan engagement and successfully delivering thousands of visitors to the Isle of Man after the difficult pandemic years, he says that from This side of things, 2022 has been a success in many ways.

“First of all, recovering the event after three years is something that we must not underestimate,” he stressed. “Maybe until the first qualifying session there were maybe people who thought it was not going to happen. Not too long ago people weren’t sure, and it was great to see people here.


“Anecdotally, people said it felt really busy all the time, all over the island and from the start, which is great. The visitor economy and the hospitality industry had really need the event to be back.

“We have launched many new initiatives because we want to ensure that the TT is the most accessible motorsport event in the world, and we have provided very cost-effective access to it. The live broadcast, which we broadcast for the very first time, had about 40 hours of live coverage with some technical issues at first, but only a very small portion of that 40 hours was affected, we delivered beyond expectations with it, with feedback universally positive.

“We’ve also demonstrated that the thing has huge potential for the future in terms of viewership, and because of that and other work that we’ve done, we’re growing viewership at a ridiculously high rate, which is great because the TT needs it. I believe that this audience growth is very diverse – you can see it at the event itself. All that content work and audience focus is really important.

However, while the television coverage was, on the face of it, a huge success, the revamped event for those in attendance also appeared to be a success, with a new fan park next to the TT grandstand and the line of arrival departure a key element of the vision implemented in 2022 and beyond.

“We delivered our fan base for the very first time and again it was really well received,” Phillips explained. “Free, lots of entertainment, just a nice place to be. The fan park vision has been on my mind since the moment I started working on the TT. It was always the idea of ​​Henman Hill but in speed!


“The highlight was getting the riders off the podium covered in sweat and champagne and flying straight out there to meet the fans. No other sport can offer that, and I hope we can continue to do that. do until they were too big rock stars to want to! But they all really enjoyed the interaction with the fans, and that’s what we want our USP to be. We want to bring the sport to the fans like no other sport can.

“There are all the different nuances that people won’t be excited about and that we’re still happy about, like the rule changes. It’s all working, and it’s a great frustration that everything we’ve done is working and working well, but there are issues beyond our direct control that have a significant impact on whether or not the event is successful. .

So what’s the next step? Although there is still a lot of work to do as he continues to execute a seven-year plan backed by the Isle of Man Government to revitalize racing while working hard to make it safer, the next stage of the plans will only come after he has had the opportunity to take a breather and reflect on the unique course of a unique race.

“It’s such a cliche, but there’s nothing else like the TT,” said the local Manx. “There are other things like that, but nothing really comparable. The Senior TT ending was funny; I was with Jennie Gow and Andrew Colley, who first worked on our broadcast team.

“The Senior TT went successfully, there was a lot of relief, it went safely, and it was a spectacular race. I was having a conversation with these motorsport journalists, who were struggling to find the words to describe the emotion they had for the event.

“They were trying to explain to me what their emotions were, and I knew what they were trying to say, but I could never explain it. And I found that quite fascinating. It’s exhausting. I’ve spoken to people involved who aren’t involved in the running of the race – reporters, people selling things on the grandstand, or whatever, and they’re all exhausted.

“It’s like a washing machine, with no other people outside. A real bubble.

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