Hutchinson to make full-time return in BSB
Ian Hutchinson will make his first BSB appearance in five years when he lines up alongside Tommy Hill on the Swan Yamaha in 2012.
Isle of Man TT record-breaker Ian Hutchinson will return to full-time racing for the first time in 18 months next season after being signed as partner to Tommy Hill at Swan Yamaha in British Superbikes.
The 32-year-old made history in 2010 when he became the first man to win five Isle of Man TT races in one event, but an accident during a British Supersport round shortly afterwards left him with serious leg injuries.
Forced to sit out the entire 2011 season, despite joining SMR with the intention to ride again at the Isle of Man TT, Hutchinson didn't make his return to action until the Macau Grand Prix last month. Nonetheless, SMR has renewed its faith in Hutchinson by re-signing him to compete in both the British Superbike Championship and the international road races next season.
Set to be his first appearance at BSB level since 2007 when he deputised for Leon Camier, Hutchinson is looking forward to re-joining the series and is confident the new regulations will benefit him.
"Next year is definitely a big one for me and I have never been looking forward to a season so much," he said. "I am glad that I had the opportunity to race at the end of this year as I have always had faith in my own ability but I just needed to prove to any doubters that I could still race.
"I have wanted to race in BSB for several years but the right opportunity has never been there and that makes 2012 a big year for me. For the last three years I have won in the British Supersport and National Superstock classes, but I haven't really had full seasons to be able to fight for the title.
"I think the knowledge I have of riding a Superbike on the roads will help me, and in that respect the new rules will too as I have never ridden with all the gizmos. I tested the Swan Yamaha before Macau and it is a great bike to ride; everything about it feels good so I can't see any reason why I can't run at the front."
Touching on the injury that kept him off a bike for a year, Hutchinson is confident he is back to full fitness now and has no lingering effects from the accident.
"I am over my injury now; I currently still use the right-hand gear shift that the team adapted for me to run at Macau but it is not a concern. The team have got it working perfectly for me so I just feel ready to get out testing as soon as possible! I think the injury and the year just watching from the sidelines has definitely made me want it more; I want to prove that I can still be successful and I am determined to show that.
"The crash doesn't faze me and I don't think of it as traumatic, but as an experience. I was just unlucky that I got hit and injured the leg so badly. As a rider it hasn't affected me as something like that can happen at any time. Now I just want to race and my aim is to get the results myself and the Swan Yamaha team deserve both in BSB and at the TT."
With a view to winning both the BSB title and Isle of Man TT in 2012, team manager Shaun Muir says signing Hutchinson alongside Hill was an easy one.
"We were then looking at our options for a second rider. Our goals as a team and for Yamaha are to win the BSB title and win at the Isle of Man TT. We reviewed our options carefully and I have been impressed with Ian Hutchinson, not only his race craft but also his ability to work with the team and his determination to return from injury.
"He has spent a lot of time in the garage with us this year and his recent performance at the Macau Grand Prix proved he is over his injury now. Hutchy will be with the team for two seasons (2012 and 2013) and we are committed to him; I really want to turn him into the complete racer that can win in both disciplines.
"He has the potential so we want to be able to give him the opportunity to excel. We are now looking forward to working again with Swan and our new partners for the forthcoming season.