The last Isle of Man TT (IOMTT) race took place on June 7, 2019. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, racers and fans alike will return to the island on May 28, 2022. With IOMTT 2022 less than six months away, organisers are making final preparations for the legendary event. However, IOMTT staff have used their time wisely during the pandemic, implementing new safety guidelines and procedures for one of the most dangerous races in the world.
Leading IOMTT’s Safety Management System, former Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot and weapons instructor Nigel Crennell is used to assessing risk. Crennell’s right-hand man, Doctor Gareth Davies, is also acclimated to risk-rich situations after a career in the London Air Ambulance Service. Together, Crennell and Davies analysed and scrutinised IoMTT practices, looking for every opportunity to enhance rider safety.
The team first implemented a new event management structure. After deciphering the roles and responsibilities of race organisers and the governing body, the team hired new staff to create a bespoke safety compliance protocol. In addition to new personnel, Crennell and Davies are cleaning up the course, removing the old scoreboard, and improving pit lane.
“We’re now grappling with the big issues, finding real clarity between the inherent risks and the unnecessary risks, and removing the latter,” stated Davies. “That’s been the absolute focus. Historically the view has always been that racing the TT is risky, and because that’s part of the attraction, you’ll only ruin it if you try and deal with that risk.
“What we’ve managed to do with the SMS is quickly convince people that there are risks that need to be dealt with and that these don’t actually tamper with the spectacle, nor the DNA, of the event.”
In the past, Davies also promoted the use of IOMTT helicopters to take doctors to injured riders on the roadside as opposed to sky ambulances simply transporting racers to nearby Noble’s Hospital. Davies and Crennel will continue to scrutinise IOMTT’s current practices while committing to analysing future incidents. That type of work ethic brought the SMS this far and will only help future-proof the Isle of Man TT.
“It’s been an incredible process and one I’m proud to be part of,” admitted Davies. “There’ll be some mourning for some of the more outdated and makeshift elements of the TT, but you can’t apply professional excellence without making changes – and that’s the business we’re in. There’ll be a new generation of TT fan who will embrace what we’re doing and will support it wholeheartedly. I’ll be proud to hand over this new version of the TT to the next custodians, which is all we are.”
A time for change: