Derek McGee is in a good place ahead of the 2019 season, having been allocated the number one spot in the supertwins race for the Isle of Man TT races in June.
Just back from the launch event, Derek told the Westmeath Examiner he is aiming to go one better than the second place he recorded in the 2018 supertwins race.
He explained that the organisers base the seeding on the rider’s performance in the previous year. He was seeded 15 in 2018 and finished second in the race – so this year he is up 15 places.
“Where it really works is in practice,” said Derek. “In practice, you set off in number order, in groups, so in previous years I was starting around 36, well back, and there was no one to get tow with, and you couldn’t see the good bikes, to see what they were doing.
“That’s the thing [about the high seeding] – if I could hold with the boys, even for a few corners, I’d see what they’re doing and that’s how you learn.”
Delighted with the offer of the number one, Derek said he could have declined and chosen another seed, but: “I like a bit of clear road anyway.”
Though he will target the supertwins class, he is also looking forward to the other TT events. “We have a lot to show on the big bikes yet, we haven’t got a good run there,” Derek said.
If that’s the case, Derek’s rivals would be as well to look out for him this year more than ever, because found a second a lap during a test at Guadix in Spain (near Malaga) last month. “That went really well, we brought over the ZX10, last year’s bike, just to get mileage and get back into the groove again. We got down to good competitive times for the short circuit stuff. It was good to see what we were able to do.
“We had three days and consistent weather, about 20 degrees, so any changes you made to the bike you could see whether you were improving, making a step forward.
“We had never done much with the bike before, we got it delivered and it was doing everything ok and we said ‘why mess at it’, and we never really did any test days like that.
“So Roddy [Hayes] and I got over and we said, look, we’ll just try a few different things, go different directions and see what happens, so we made two major steps in the right direction and made a big improvement.
“The setup for short circuits is not a million miles away from the roads, and the direction we went was the roads – and it actually improved it on the short circuit as well, which was a bit of a surprise.
“Then, with the last change we made to the bike, we were a second a lap quicker. The way the bike is now, physically it was a lot easier to ride as well.”
Derek has a new Kawasaki ZX10RR this year, a 2019 model, and a second ZX6, which is the ex-Ben Curry bike that finished the British Superbike Championship as runner-up last year. “That’s a 2018 bike but a fresh bike for us,” said Derek. “It has a real good pedigree. It’s a sister bike to the one we have already, so no issues with the bikes this year, hopefully, now that we have a back-up.”
Another big change for the 2019 season, which opens with the Cookstown meeting at the end of April, is Derek’s link with Francesco Feraldo, who will be running a Moto3 bike for him.
Last year Derek rode a Moto3 for Gary Dunlop as part of the Joey’s Bar Team, and while he had explored doing 2019 with them, they were unsure about what they could commit to.
As a result, Derek took the opportunity to work with Feraldo, who he had met at last year’s TT races, and now the Italian is setting up in Ireland, probably in County Meath, in order to be close to Derek so they can make the most of their new partnership.
Derek says he will do Cookstown and Tandragee, ahead of the North West 200, before going to the Isle of Man. “After the TT we’ll decide what we’re doing, see what way the budget is. We’re going to try to take in most of the rounds [of the national championships] though obviously we’ll have to sit out a few – we just can’t afford to do them all.”