‘The BMW is the best bike. Michael Dunlop knows what he needs to win TTS and if he thought something was better, he’d be on it straight away’
Ian Hutchinson after testing his new TT Tyco BMW
It might seem hard to believe that a factory racer would pack his new bike into the back of a van, buy a ferry ticket and drive from Yorkshire to Spain to have his first test on a new machine but that is exactly what Tyco BMW’S 2016 recruit, Ian Hutchinson, did last week.
The 11-times TT winner chose to go it alone to Almeria, without any mechanics or electronics wizards in tow, as he completed his first test on the new BMW S1000RR that he hopes will bring him TT glory in June.
“I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed,” Hutchy said after his first taste on the stocker version of the German superbike.
“The biggest thing is the power delivery, it is just so smooth you don’t even realise how fast you are going. Everyone who’s ridden the bike seems to love it and they were right. It’s the first time I’ve gone out on day one on a new bike and felt really comfortable.”
What makes the 36-year-old’s Spanish odyssey all the more remarkable is that the track day test at Almeria was the first time he’s ridden a BMW. Most of us wouldn’t buy a bike without taking it for a spin but Hutchy has no qualms about signing a contract to race the BMW on the world’s toughest track without a prior test.
“As professional racers we can pretty much throw our leg over anything and ride it,” he smiled. “It’s a bike, it’s 1000cc, it’s an inline four and it’s going to be similar to lots of other bikes I’ve ridden before. The important thing is that BMW is on top of the job at the moment.”
There were no transponders or lap times as the former mechanic fettled his machine in his brand new leathers.
“I just wanted to have a go on my own, not to set a lap time or break any records, just to ride round and get really comfortable with what a standard BMW feels like,” he explained.
“Then when I ride the superbike I will know what the bike is supposed to feel like with a standard setting and know which way I want to go with it rather than try to turn it into something that I’ve ridden in the past.”
The test was the start of an intense month of pre-season trials for the Bingley Bullet, with another four-day session at Cartagena this week followed by a return to Almeria for a Bmw-only test and then a Metzeler tyre event. Along the way Hutchy hopes to ride the Team Traction Control Yamaha R6 he will use in this year’s Supersport road races.
“I want to get as much time on the bike before the TT as I can.”
It is a well-worn path for the wily Yorkshireman. The hundreds of laps he completed on the PBM Kawasakis last winter helped him net a Superstock TT victory plus Superbike and Senior race podiums in 2015. A Supersport double completed a glorious comeback from his horrific 2010 leg injury.
“I said what I wanted with this bike and it has turned up with everything I asked for on it,” he says.
For Hutchy and many other racers, the mods and tweaks that give a bike that personal touch are actually quite small things. John Mcguinness uses wider handlebars and bigger footrests on his factory Honda at the TT to make it more comfortable. At Almeria Hutchy changed the handlebar grips and added some extra padding to the seat after the opening session.
When all of these little tweaks are combined they create the feel that Hutchy is looking for but perhaps more importantly, they give him a reassurance in both the machine and the team that bolsters his confidence for the battles ahead.
“I know where I want to be sat, how I want it to feel,” he explains. “That’s your first step on a bike. It is especially important at the TT because you are on the bike for so long. I never felt that comfortable on the Superstock bike last year and it never really felt like my bike. This bike feels like my bike already.”
Famed for his methodical preparation, Hutchy knows exactly what equipment he needs to suit his style.
“I’ve been doing it long enough to be able to make my own mind up,” he says.
“I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve said to team owners: ‘You tell me how much you want me to go and win a TT but you don’t listen to me.’”
Hutchy cites his experience with the R6 in the Milwaukee Yamaha squad in 2014 and Keith Flint’s Team Traction Control outfit last year as a comparison.
“I rode the R6 in 2014 and there were little things I wanted but none got done
‘As professional racers we can pretty much throw our leg over anything and ride’
and the bike was horrible,ó he says.
Òthen last year I jumped on an R6 with no practice and said I want these things, five little things, and they were all put on and the first time out it was exactly what I wanted to ride. I felt comfortable on it and won two TTS. Itõs not rocket science.ó
One special mod to the Tyco BMW is the right hand gear change that the Bingley man has been forced to use as a result of his leg injury.
ÒWE did a lot of work on it last year and Stuart Bland [his crew chief at PBM Kawasaki] got it sorted,ó Hutchy says.
Òthe Tyco team have pretty much replicated all the angles and so on to make it work on this bike.ó
He also says it was vital for him that Tyco BMW used K Tech suspension on the S1000RRS.
Òthose guys understand what I need. There are other companies that are huge globally, but how much interest do they have in one person at the TT? K Tech have that interest,ó he asks.
This single-minded approach in finding the equipment he wants to building a bike to suit him has been the cornerstone of Hutchyõs success but did his first ride on the BMW suggest he has a bike that can knock Mcguinnessõs Honda off its Senior TT winning perch?
ÒI havenõt ridden it around the TT yet, and that is a completely different place, but Iõve seen a lot of other riders who have had success in their own right around there on a BMW.
ÒIT is going to suit the long races at the TT and although Iõve enjoyed success on Hondas I think it is time now for me to change which bike I win TT races on.ó
‘I just wanted to have a go on my own, not to set a lap time or break any records’