McGee hopes for speedy recovery
“We’ll gather ourselves together and hopefully come back again next year,” Derek McGee told the Westmeath Examiner last Wednesday on his way home from the Isle of Man TT races.
The Mullingar man was feeling “a little bit second hand – we’re lucky – it was a big crash” as he made his way through the airport on crutches, having been released from Noble’s Hospital that morning.
The KMR Kawasaki rider had crashed at Greeba Castle during practice for the Lightweight race last on Monday. He said: “I broke a few bones in my back, I have a fracture in my pelvis, up into my tail bone, I have a couple of broken ribs and the lungs got a good belt as well.
“I went into a stone wall and kerb caught me, but I was lucky to get away with it.
“It was a funny sort of a crash. I was just coming through the section at Greeba Castle and I was powering out of the exit and the front dropped on me – normally when you’re coming round a corner, once you’re on the power, you’re safe enough.
“In the video (on YouTube), you can hear me back on the corner. There’s a little crest and I just leaned over and the front rolled under me.
“I couldn’t fault the bike. I don’t know if the track was a bit green after all the rain and the grip just wasn’t there. It was the same speed as I’ve always done it – I was actually quicker in the dry last year, in better conditions – but I didn’t do anything wrong really.”
Derek said the bike was going well, as the team had put a new engine in because he was “struggling for a bit of speed” in the earlier practice session. He was confident of being able to fight for a podium finish, as he had put in strong times on the first night of practice even though he wasn’t happy with the bike.
“We were back on a bit of speed and the wind was quite bad so I didn’t just push on,” Derek said.
“I was going for a steady second lap when we crashed. We had done a 117 (mph) on our first lap, and that was messing around with a couple of riders, I wasn’t pushing too much either, so there was definitely more left in the tank.”
Asked what he will do next, Derek said: “We’ll put it behind us and have a think about what we’re going to do, what races to try to get back out for.
“With the back, they can’t operate. If they go in, it leaves you out way longer. If they can get away with the bones just being left there broken they’re not going to hinder me. So it’s a waiting game – get back into physio, get into treatment as well and see if we can speed it [recovery] up a little bit.
“Yesterday I was pretty bad and the day before, but I got out this morning (Wednesday) and did the physio. They said if I could do the physio, I could go home. I had to go up and down a few stairs, so I got that done this morning and that got us out.
“I’m on crutches now. I’m lucky enough. I didn’t think I’d be able to walk at all. I’m only on Paracetamol at the minute, so I’m not too bad.”
Derek is planning to be back out for Walderstown in July.
“We’ll see what way it pans out for us. I’ll probably sit out the rest of the big ones and just do a few of the smaller races and get back into gear again. I’d say we’ll sit out the likes of the Ulster and the Southern 100 this year, we’ll just do a few small ones and take it steady,” he said.
Before the crash, he had been going well on his other bikes, despite the weather that hindered this year’s TT schedule. In the supersport he said he “felt comfortable as well, so that [not getting to race] was disappointing”, but on the superbike he “wasn’t happy with conditions at all”.
“It was far too windy for me. I’d be a bit on the lighter side, and I didn’t feel comfortable on the mountain with the wind, so I decided to pull in after a lap,” he explained.
“All week the wind was desperate bad and for us smaller riders were suffering. The likes of Lee Johnston retired as well.
“He had the same complaint, he just couldn’t hold on with the wind. I was being blown around the place.”
Giving his overall impression of this year’s TT, Derek said: “It was tough for everyone. You had to feel for the organisers and the spectators.
“It’s just been a really tough couple of weeks for everyone with the weather but there’s nothing much you can do. We started off steady enough with decent enough times, and now we’ll gather ourselves together and hopefully come back again next year.”
Following the TT McGee still tops the Duke Road Racing rankings on 689 points.
Thomas Maxwell also competed at this year’s TT races, but the Examiner hasn’t managed to talk to him yet. We hope to have a report on his TT in a future edition.