Hutchinson is eager to prove he can compete with the big guns
Bingley ace Ian Hutchinson is closing in on his heart’s desire — a full-time return to the British Superbike Championship — after being given a huge opportunity this weekend at Assen in the Netherlands where he will ride a factory-backed Tyco BMW alongside TAS Racing regulars Michael Laverty and Christian Iddon.
The 14-time Isle of Man TT winner currently holds second place in this year’s Pirelli National 1000cc Superstock Championship but, with no race this weekend in the Netherlands for competitors in that class, Tyco BMW team manager Philip Neill has given Hutchinson a chance to show his pedigree in the British Championship’s premier BSB class.
Hutchinson, who has had a great season on the tarmac with Tyco BMW having taken two wins from his eight podiums — not to mention a plethora of wins on the international road racing scene — said: “I’m very grateful to my Tyco BMW team for giving me the opportunity to ride in the British Superbike class this weekend at Assen.”
Hutchinson’s last opportunity in British Superbike came in 2014 aboard an FFX Yamaha, recording a best result of 12th place before finishing the season in the British Superstock class with PBM Kawasaki.
In fairness to Hutchinson he was still on the road to recovery after again breaking his leg following his horror crash in 2010, but what he has gone on to achieve since is something that even the most optimistic of people would never have envisaged.
Back-to-back hat-tricks at the Isle of Man TT have brought his current tally to 14, where he joins the late, great Mike Hailwood, and, but for having to miss one round of this year’s British Superstock Championship to concentrate on his road racing efforts, he would undoubtedly have run newly-crowned champion Taylor Mackenzie right to the wire.
Recounting his season, he said: “At the start of the year we were using the Stock class for track time and keeping myself in good nick for the roads. But after the North West 200 and TT wins on the Superstock bike I was able to open the taps in British Championship and we gave Taylor a good run for it.
“I think at times we provided more entertainment than the Superbike class and I really enjoyed riding the Tyco BMW S1000RR Superstock bike all year.
“But this weekend is a chance for something new and the Superbike class is where I always said I wanted to end up once fully fit.
“There’s no doubt it’s been a great season for me this year with Tyco BMW and, although I’ve never been to the Assen circuit, I hope to be able to do both myself and the team justice in both Superbike races.”
Team manager Neill, who has opened the door for Hutchinson to show his potential, said: “Hutchy has had a great year on Tyco BMW machinery both in the British Championship and also on the roads, so he fully deserves his chance to go out and ride a Superbike this weekend at Assen.
“There’s no pressure on him. We want him to go out and enjoy the experience, but knowing Hutchy he will be looking for more than just a decent result.”
With Tyco BMW’s British Superbike regulars Laverty and Iddon failing to make the all-important top six Showdown, which reaches the penultimate round at Assen, Neill has been left with a headache regarding his rider choice for 2017.
But one thing is for certain; the Moneymore-based team will not be keen to let their road racing renaissance man Hutchinson go anywhere in 2017 — so there is a chance we will see the Bingley ace in a full-time BSB role next year with TAS Racing.