Belfast Telegraph

Ian Hutchinson a major doubt for Isle of Man TT

By Paul Lindsay

Ian Hutchinson's majestic win at last month's Macau Grand Prix, on his return from injury and 29 intrusive operations, has been diluted by the shocking news that his Milwaukee Yamaha team are considering a withdrawal from next year's Isle of Man TT.

This is due to the introduction of potentially restrictive new technical regulations for the 2014 event.

The proposed new regulations will stop teams from using expensive after-market electronics like Magneti Marelli, which Milwaukee Yamaha have fitted to the factory Superbike that Hutchinson rode to victory at Macau in November.

Getting pulled down from the massive high of victory in the Far East, Hutchinson – a five-time clean sweep winner at the TT in 2010 – said of the announcement: "The TT is close to my heart and I enjoy racing there, and despite being disappointed, I stand by the team on whatever decision they make."

Looking at the TT's new rules, he added: "The fact that they are bringing these new rules out to cut costs is badly timed in my opinion, as all the manufacturers have pretty much got their bikes sorted for next year's TT.

"Our bikes are built and ready to go, so (Team Principal) Shaun (Muir) is now going to have to invest a load more money; how is that helping teams cut costs?"

Breaking the new regulations down in layman's terms, they basically allow teams to use their standard manufacturer-supplied kit electronic systems, or they will be given the option of running the same control electronics system (Motec) that is currently being utilised in British Superbike.

Milwaukee Yamaha team boss Muir is rocked at the move, basing his decision on the potential withdrawal on the basis that the new rules will effectively cost him over £15,000 per bike, which in turn and more significantly will still leave his Yamaha team less competitive than their rivals.

He said: "With the exception of (Tyco Suzuki team manager) Philip Neill who I believe is giving away a big advantage by not using Marelli, every other manufacturer has protected their own interests.

"My biggest issue is that Yamaha's kit ECU for a race bike is very basic; all it does is raise the revs by 250, end of story. So we would be at a great disadvantage.

"Yes, there would be limited cost involved in using it, but it will just not manage our current engines."

On the Motec option that he currently runs on his British Superbikes, he explained: "The Motec box has less strategy than a kit Kawasaki, BMW or Honda box and it will cost me at least £15,000 to put it on just one of my bikes.

"It could be argued that we already have it on Josh Brookes' bike," said Muir, who openly explained that the Australian – who was the TT's best newcomer in 2013 with a lap of almost 128mph – could run his BSB spec bike at the TT.

"But how do people know that we haven't already signed another rider for the TT?" he added, quite possibly making reference to Michael Dunlop.

In summing up, he said: "The TT want to make a change and they are letting us keep our engines, but changing the electronics with the proposed format just isn't a level playing field.

"Honda and Kawasaki have to change nothing on their bikes, yet I've to spend all that money to race at a disadvantage.

"So I have to ask myself, 'is it fair to ask my riders to do that'?"

The question must now be asked, is this bad planning on the part of the TT or have these new regulations come a year too early for Yamaha, with their now outdated production Yamaha set to be replaced with a new model in 2015?

Either way, the loss of Hutchinson and Brookes from TT 2104 would be a bitter blow for all involved.

Maybe restricting the top 10 teams to Motec only is the answer, with everyone then singing off the same hymn sheet.

Belfast Telegraph


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