‘It’s been the strangest race
15th TT Bingley bullet digs deep to secure 2010 win and first Superbike victory since
Ian Hutchinson made a dream start to TT week by taking victory in the opening Superbike race onboard his Tyco BMW, his 15th TT win of his career and one that saw him overtake Mike Hailwood in the all-time winners list.
In what was his first Superbike win since his incredible ‘five-in-a-week’ fest of 2010, Hutchy secured victory by 5.070s seconds, but it wasn’t easy with the 37-year-old being pushed by Michael Dunlop, Dean Harrison, James Hillier and Peter Hickman.
After a week of torrid weather, Hutchy and his rivals were seriously down on practice laps, making the opening race a difficult one for punters to predict and for the riders to prepare for. And while Hutchy had the luxury of competing with the same bike and team as last year, he did have to get dialled into new tyres having made the switch from Metzeler to Dunlop.
“We all struggled for laps this week,” explained the Bingley man. “I just didn’t know what to think about the race because on lap one I just wanted to pack it in because I truly didn’t have the bike to win on at the start of the race. But I thought ‘it’s the TT, its six laps, just keep digging in’. Dean (Harrison) was leading from the start and setting a great pace and obviously I had a bit of luck with a few people going out in the race,” he said referring to the early retirement from the lead of rival Michael Dunlop.
Despite winning both Supersport races and the Superstock in 2016, Hutchy was beaten by bitter rival Michael Dunlop in both the Superbike and the blue ribbon Senior race last year. While most riders would be ecstatic with three TT wins in a week, Hutchy was not and put plans in place to win the prestigious big bike races.
“The big swap to Dunlop worked straight away. Thank god!” he said.
“Two weeks before the North West, the team built me a new bike, which is a Superstock bike with a Superbike engine. That was it, so it was either going to work or not, it was my choice, they went with it and massive thanks to them for trusting what I thought.”
The other area that Hutchy addressed was pitstops. In 2016 he was left frustrated with the speed with which his team were able to turnaround the bike during the two pit stops of the six-lap races where he lost time to the slick factory Honda squad, but in 2017 these problems had been addressed.
“We were practising through the week, as soon as it wasn’t raining, we were on a driveway practising them and more at nine this morning.”
And while Hutchy’s name will forever sit in the history books of winning the 2017 Superbike TT, it was a close run affair after having his lead slashed to 1.6 seconds on the final lap by the hard-charging Peter Hickman. But the now 15 time TT winner had the mental strength and experience to dig deep.
“On the last lap there was a crash at Greeba Castle and James Hillier and I caught a backmarker and he slowed up a lot, lot more than we would probably would have. I just want to thank the marshals and the medics at the scene, to trust us to keep racing past them. I think we lost about six or seven seconds with that incident so I had to get a bit of a shift on which I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do. I got a really good run over the Mountain and from the Bungalow I had two backmarkers so I just did the safest job I could getting through as fast as I could.”
‘The team went with it and big thanks to them for trusting what I thought’
Hutchy hops off to tweak the suspension while his well-practised team do their job
1 st Ian Hutchinson Fastest lap: 130.738 (lap 6)