THE BAT­TLE TO BE BMW’S NO.1

Hutchy and Dun­lop are both rid­ing BMWS in the big bike races at the TT, but who will come out on top?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Stephen Dav­i­son ROADS RAC­ING RE­PORTER By Si­mon Pat­ter­son MO­TOGP RE­PORTER

One of the things that makes the cur­rent era of TT rac­ing so fas­ci­nat­ing are the per­son­al­i­ties and ri­val­ries in­volved.

All through the field there are bat­tles be­ing fought be­tween riders and man­u­fac­tur­ers, and in 2016 one of the fiercest con­fronta­tions will be be­tween BMW ri­vals Ian Hutchin­son and Michael Dun­lop.

Hutchy ap­peared to be ris­ing to road rac­ing dom­i­nance in 2010 as he be­came the first man to win five TT races in a week on the Pad­getts Hon­das. The York­shire­man’s well doc­u­mented leg in­jury halted his re­lent­less progress but the 36-year-old bounced back to win three races in 2015. With 11 TT ca­reer wins on his CV, Hutchy has joined the Tyco BMW squad as he bids to make up for those lost years.

Michael Dun­lop’s star has risen dur­ing Hutchy’s ab­sence, some­thing the Bin­g­ley man is al­ways keen to point out. Dun­lop has won 10 of his 11 TT races since 2010, in­clud­ing two un­prece­dented four-timers in 2013 and 2014. The Bal­ly­money man wanted to prove that he could win on any bike, jump­ing from man­u­fac­turer to man­u­fac­turer to chock up nu­mer­ous suc­cesses be­fore last sea­son’s dis­as­trous union with Mil­wau­kee Yamaha saw his bril­liant run of suc­cess crash to a bit­ter end.

Dun­lop has now re­turned to the BMW fold with Stu­art and Steve Hicken’s Hawk Rac­ing, and the highly charged Ul­ster man is de­ter­mined to show his 2015 an­nus hor­ri­bilis was noth­ing more than a tem­po­rary blip.

Mean­while, Hutchy and his Tyco

IAN HUTCHIN­SON

BMW squad will be equally de­ter­mined to prove his 2015 tre­ble Tt-win­ning an­nus mirabilis is the re­sump­tion of a dom­i­nance that was only in­ter­rupted by his hor­rific in­jury.

“I got a lit­tle buzz to­day when I rode the su­per­bike from Windy Cor­ner round to the 33rd,” Hutchy said af­ter tak­ing his new mount for his first spin on the Moun­tain course dur­ing a photo shoot at last week’s TT press launch. “I thought f**king hell this is go­ing to be good.”

The Bin­g­ley man had al­ready cov­ered hun­dreds of miles on the BMW dur­ing pre-sea­son Span­ish tests be­fore putting the S1000RR on the podium in the Su­per­stock race at the open­ing Sil­ver­stone BSB round.

“It was bril­liant for me to get back to that level and that’s be­cause I am so com­fort­able with the bike,” he ex­plained. “It’s just ef­fort­less to ride fast, you’re not forc­ing it to do a fast lap and I just rode round. I’m just hop­ing that every­thing trans­fers well to the Isle of Man.”

Dun­lop was also in ac­tion in the BSB races at Sil­ver­stone as he en­ters what will be a third sea­son on the Ger­man su­per­bike af­ter his de­fec­tion from Yamaha last year. Will that of­fer him an ad­van­tage over Hutchy in 2016?

“Not re­ally,” he says. “I don’t think con­ti­nu­ity is the be all and end all. A bike is a bike and you have to ride it. I won on my first year on Kawasaki, Honda and BMW, and John Mcguin­ness has rid­den a Honda Fire­blade for seven or eight years and he hasn’t won ev­ery Se­nior TT has he?”

But the 26-year-old, who es­tab­lished the sec­ond fastest TT lap of all time at 132.5mph on a S1000RR in last year’s Se­nior race, is clearly de­ter­mined to re­tain his sta­tus as the most suc­cess­ful BMW rider.

“Since BMW brought out the new RR I am the only man who has won the big bike race for them at the TT and I am still the fastest BMW rider in Su­per­stock and Su­per­bike,” he says.

BMW’S pol­icy of of­fer­ing sup­pos­edly equal race sup­port to ev­ery team run­ning their ma­chin­ery plus of­fer­ing fac­tory-built en­gines for sale cre­ates some con­fu­sion as to what spe­cial sup­port Tyco will re­ceive as the ‘of­fi­cial’ Bmw-sup­ported team at the TT.

“I went to test at the BMW camp at Alme­ria,” Hutchy says. “They did some up­grades on my bike and I fine­tuned it and then they gave it to ev­ery other BMW rider there so we all got the ex­actly same info! Maybe it’s just that we’ve not all got the same pay packet or com­pany cars.”

But Dun­lop, who had a Ger­man en­gine builder on hand to work on the fac­tory-sup­plied en­gines he raced with at the TT in 2014, is more cir­cum­spect.

“They will have ac­cess to every­thing they need,” he says re­fer­ring to the Tyco BMW’S ‘of­fi­cial’ des­ig­na­tion.

‘All BMW riders get the same data, maybe it’s just that we’ve not all got the same pay packet’

“My bikes are built en­tirely by Hawk Rac­ing with no in­put from BMW and no spe­cial parts,” he says.

Does that put him at a dis­ad­van­tage against his great ri­val?

“No” he smiles. “Every­body has been run­ning round with spe­cial parts for the last 10 years and we are still win­ning races.”

The old adage that a happy racer will be a fast racer will be put to the test in 2016 with both men ap­pear­ing equally con­tent with their team set-ups.

“The whole thing with the team has been pretty ef­fort­less,” Hutchy says of his Guy Martin-less Tyco squad.

“Ev­ery­one has just clicked into place. All the riders get on, ev­ery­one’s do­ing a good job, ev­ery­one’s happy with the bikes and the me­chan­ics all know what they are do­ing.”

“I am get­ting what I want so there is no rea­son to be un­happy,” Dun­lop, who has not al­ways en­joyed that lux­ury, says. “I get on well with Steve (Hicken) and every­thing I’ve asked for has been de­liv­ered so you can­not ask for more than that. When you are in that sort of en­vi­ron­ment it makes life a lot eas­ier.”

De­spite their con­tent­ed­ness, both men face sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges as they take on Mcguin­ness, An­stey and Co as well as each other in June.

Hutchin­son’s Tyco team have not won a Su­per­bike TT since 2008 and nor has the team’s tyre sup­plier, Met­zeler. The team may be in their sec­ond term with BMW but it is Hutchy’s first year on the Ger­man ma­chine and in spite of his huge TT suc­cess, the Bin­g­ley man re­mains over a 1mph down on pace against his prin­ci­pal TT ri­vals.

Dun­lop is also faced with his own chal­lenges. The Hawk team will not have the same level of BMW fac­tory sup­port that his ri­val’s Tyco squad will en­joy, and the Bal­ly­money man is com­ing off the back of a very bad year that in­volved sev­eral con­fi­dence­dent­ing crashes.

“If the bike doesn’t have the power, I can make up for a small lack of speed or a small lack of han­dling but you can’t make up for be­ing 25 horse­power down,” Dun­lop said. “There is so much pace around at the mo­ment that you won’t stand a chance.”

Hutchy got his first taste of the Tyco BMW su­per­bike on the road at last week’s TT press launch

Dun­lop and Hutchy will be both try­ing to get their hands on the Se­nior tro­phy in five weeks time In the red cor­ner, Jorge Lorenzo! It’s of­fi­cial, the Spa­niard is join­ing Du­cati for 2017 36 141 Lorenzo’s tak­ing his stet­son to Du­cati

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