‘MY TEAM UNDERSTAND ME, IT JUST WORKS’
Hutchy is determined to win big bike TTS and has made some key changes for 2017
The final practice session at last year’s TT set the scene for the week of unprecedented high speed racing that followed. During that beautiful summer’s evening, Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop blazed around the Mountain course on their Tyco and Hawk BMWS, throwing down the gauntlet to one another and igniting their fierce rivalry that was to define TT 2016.
“The times were ridiculous last year,” Hutchy reflects.
“Before, you’d spend all week trying and then by Friday you’d do a 130mph lap and be in a good position. But last year, 130s came in no time, then 131s and then all of a sudden 132s. I did 132.8 on the stocker, then a 133mph lap from a standing start.”
No-one talks about last year’s TT without mentioning the Dunlop-hutchy rivalry that saw the record books rewritten, but come race day the battles were never quite as close as they had been on that final Friday evening of practice.
The Yorkshireman won the Superstock race on the Tyco BMW by 28 seconds from Dean Harrison after Dunlop retired. Mounted on his Team Traction Control Yamaha, Hutchy blitzed both Supersport events to equal Mike Hailwood’s tally of 14 TT wins.
In the big bike events the story was reversed as Hutchy was forced to watch Dunlop canter to a 19-second lead in the Superbike race and win the Senior by a yawning 31-second margin.
In the week between those two races, relations between the duo broke down completely in the wake of the ‘Pistongate’ scandal that blew up around the legality of the components in Hutchy’s Supersport race-winning engine.
Hutchy hopes his switch from Metzeler to Dunlop tyres will help him win the Superbike and Senior races this time round.
“Both teams, Tyco BMW and MCAMS Yamaha, understand what I want. It just works,” says the 37-year-old.
“I’ve gone back to what I started my TT career with. I did many years with Dunlop tyres. I’ve been on the Metzelers and I’ve given it all I’ve got and I need to change something. I don’t want to change teams, I didn’t want to change the bike, I was happy with everything so the only thing I can go back to is the Dunlop tyres to see what we can do about the superbike.”
Although Pirelli/metzeler have won dozens of TT races over the past decade, no-one has won a superbike TT race on the Italian company’s rubber since Cameron Donald’s Superbike victory on the Relentless Suzuki in 2008.
Hutchy adds: “I’ve been on the podium in every race for the past two years and not won the big bike races so if I don’t change something all I can see is a repeat of the year before.”
The Bingley man will not have been encouraged by his North West 200 experience though. With his Tyco BMW team-mate Alastair Seeley using Metzeler tyres on his superstock and superbike spec S1000RRS there was a unique opportunity to compare each man’s race kit and Seeley got the better of Hutchy in every encounter. Seeley will not be at the TT though and the North West’s 8.9-mile lap does not present the same challenge as the 37.73-mile Mountain course. There will also be changes to the Tyco BMW which Hutchy found so difficult to ride in full superbike spec last year. He struggled so much that he actually used the stocker engine in the Senior race.
“I really struggled with the throttle connection and the way the power delivery was with the engine last year,” he explained.
“As far as trying to win the race goes, it wasn’t the best idea to put the superstock engine in for the Senior race but I wanted to be safe and I wasn’t very safe on the other bike. That being said, we finished second and were five seconds off the lap record on the stock engine. The team went away and did some work and the bike was lovely to race at the Ulster where I won.”
That Ulster GP outing was the last head-tohead Hutchy had with his main TT rivals this year and he beat all of them convincingly. In the closely fought feature superbike race, the Englishman headed home Bruce Anstey on the RC213V-S Honda and Dunlop’s Hawk BMW to make it four wins over the week.
The whole dynamic of this year’s TT has now changed following Michael Dunlop’s move to Suzuki and the absence of John Mcguinness but there can’t be much doubt Hutchy still sees Dunlop as his main rival for superbike TT glory.
“At the end of the day if I come this year and finish fifth, there’ll be no rivalry and nobody will be interested in what I’ve done in the past. If I’m first or second and someone else is first or second there is going to be a rivalry. If you are here to fight for wins then there’s always a rivalry there. It went a bit too far last year with some of the stuff that happened.”
‘IF YOU FIGHT FOR WINS THERE IS GOING TO BE RIVALRY. BUT IT DID GO A BIT TOO FAR LAST YEAR’