Connor Cummins enters TT 2019 looking in great form having lifted two NW200 Supersport and Superbike podiums on the Milenco by Padgetts CBR600RR and Fireblade.
At 33, the Manxman's racked up eight TT podiums - two 2nds and six 3rds but is still gunning for his maiden TT victory. And could there ever be a more popular and deserving winner than seeing Conor walking up to lift the big silver Mercury chap balancing on a winged wheel? The island would come to a standstill. A day's public holiday would have to be declared. Maybe a week's. They'd be doing cartwheels in the streets of Ramsey and the gingerbread lattes and lemon drizzle would be on the house at 74 Parliament Street. That's possibly just a bit "too far" - but there's no doubt, everyone from the Isle of Man and considerably further afield would love to see Conor win a TT.
Red Torpedo's worked with Conor for the past five years. We've been over at the Glemseck 101 Cafe Racer Sprint near Stuttgart with him, the Barber Motorsports Festival in Alabama, USA and the Motorbike Expo in Verona. We've travelled far and wide with him and know that he's a top man as well as a class road racer. We can also vouch for the fact that he's a tall man - just in case anyone who's new to the sport is wondering. They might be thinking....'he looks pretty tall. Wonder if he's actually as tall as he looks? Lots of motorcycle racers aren't tall - but he doesn't look like them.' And he doesn't. It's often a very prevalent topic within the context of Supersport racing.
Conor at the 32nd milestone Isle of Man TT
Conor turned pro in 2006 aged twenty and heralded his arrival in his first professional year by becoming the fastest newcomer at the Isle of Man TT.....and the Southern 100....and the North West 200. Not exactly 'steady away' more... "WTF - who's this guy?" A mere three years after his first competitive laps of the Mountain Course, he landed his first TT podiums: third in Supersport and second in the Senior behind Steve Plater. He also won the Dundrod 150 at the Ulster and set a new lap record of 133.284 mph on the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki. It made him the fastest road racer in the world at that time. To round an outstanding year off he headed east to the Macau GP where he was runner up, by only 0.38 seconds, to four times Macau GP winner and one of Hawick's finest, Stuart Easton at that dusty, bad ass Guia Circuit.
Conor's raced for some of the biggest teams in road racing: TAS Racing, Honda Racing, McAdoo Racing, PBM, Milwaukee Yamaha and most recently, Padgetts Racing. Like many other riders who've gone before him, he seems to have found his racing "home" with Clive Padgett's team and is producing some of the best results of his career.
Head down, bum up: Conor Cummins, Milenco by Padgetts, NW200.
"Legend's" a word that's often overused in motorsport - and sport in general but in Clive Padgett's case, it's entirely apposite. Clive Padgett's reputation and abilities as an engine builder / tuner / bike builder and team manager are indeed, legendary. Just ask John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson or Bruce Anstey. He's also a great 'people person:' a mentor and "supporter" of his riders and in interviews, comes over as someone who instills confidence in them and the team. Interviewed following last year's TT Clive Padgett said,
"We couldn't have asked for more from Conor. Of course, everyone was running real fast up at the front - but so great to see Conor back up there. I've got so much belief in that man. He's had a lean few years but the boy's back - he's had a great week."
And speaking about the relationship between Conor and the Padgett's set-up:
"I think he fits in with our family fit. He's easy going, he has a lovely wife in Danielle, his Mum and Dad are great and our whole family love him to bits - pretty much in the same mold that we've taken riders into our family team in the past."
2018 was Conor's most successful TT year to date with a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place finishes and 'personal bests' in every class. He was also the only rider to podium in both "big bike" races - the Superbike TT (2nd) and Senior (3rd). And if you're taking third behind Peter Hickman and Dean Harrison posting 135.5 mph and 134.9 mph laps respectively, you've got to be hooning on just a bit.
Conor on the Padgetts Superbike TT 2018
Conor's intention this year is more of the same - only faster. As he says himself, he's not there to make up the numbers and has gone about preparing in a slightly different way this year to try to improve in certain areas. Speaking at the TT launch in Villa Marina back in March he said.
"The bar's gone up again as it does every year. I'm a realist - I realise that I've got to up my game so I've been studying sectors and on-boards over the winter. I know where I need to pick up my heels a little bit more."
A year after turning pro in 2006 he had become the fastest ever Manxman round the Mountain Course. He now holds a best of 132.509 mph. Only five riders have gone faster: Peter Hickman, Dean Harrison, Michael Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson and John McGuinness. Esteemed company indeed.
Conor's now in his fourth year with Padgett's Racing and will again lead the field down Glencrutchery Road on the number one bike. He clearly thrives in the Padgetts "family" environment and knows the set-up inside out.
The new black and yellow livery for 2019 of the Milenco by Padgetts team
He's comfortable and confident with all three classes of bike. There's still plenty of chat that goes on about how long in the tooth the Hondas are but in Clive Padgett's hands, they work well. The Fireblade's chassis is a good stable platform round the TT course and the Padgetts team know how to make them fast too. Three years ago, Bruce Anstey's Fireblade touched 209 mph at the NW200 and this year, Conor's machine was the fastest Superbike at nearly 197 mph through the speed trap down to University in slippy, greasy conditions. His CBR60RR Supersport was fastest in class at 177 mph.
There are also some new Superbikes this year that are more or less untried and under tested on the Mountain Circuit so it's going to be interesting to see how they fare.
No one has more course knowledge than the Manxman. It goes without saying that he knows every part of the circuit inside out. Conor's in a good place: he loves the team set-up, his family life is great having recently had a baby daughter and his business is doing well. That all makes for a super relaxed Conrod - and a fast Conrod.
Conditions could also be a great leveller too. It looks like the weather's going to be a fairly mixed bag in comparison to last year and it's unlikely that the circuit will be anything like as fast. The pace may not be as fierce from the "big two" who raised the bar to such a high level last year. If conditions are anything less than perfect, this could favour a more open field.
As with all our sponsored riders, we wish Conor and the 'Padgetts Army' a safe and successful TT. The dancing shoes and our best moves will be at the ready.
Please note - we have a range of Conor Cummins merchandise on sale at the Red Torpedo stand behind the TT Grandstand.
📷 Diego Mola and Peter Faragher