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BMW Motorrad Motorsport
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Moneymore, Great Britain, 13/07/2016, British Superbike Championship BMW Road Race Challenge

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

An interview with Ian Hutchinson

Whether in road racing or on the racetrack: Ian Hutchinson has ended every race so far on the podium in his first season on the BMW S 1000 RR. Among the Tyco BMW rider’s achievements have been victory on the Isle of Man and in the British Superbike Championship. In doing so, he emphatically announced his return to the top echelon of the sport.

“Hutchy” has long since been a legend on the road racing scene. In 2010 he became the first rider ever to win all five races in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. Shortly after that, however, his career nearly came to an abrupt end. He suffered horrendous injuries to his left leg during a Supersport race in Silverstone, after which there was a real threat that he would have to have his leg amputated. Two years later he broke his leg again during a demonstration in London. However, Hutchinson has fought his way back. After 30 operations and years of recovery, he returned with a hat-trick of wins on the Isle of Man in 2015.

Ahead of the 2016 season, he switched to Tyco BMW and onto the BMW S 1000 RR – and set off on his impressive run of podiums. He won the Superstock race at the North West 200 on the RR, and also finished runner-up in the Superbike race. He was then the most successful rider at the 2016 Isle of Man TT: he won the Superstock TT and came home second in both the Superbike TT and the Senior TT. On top of that came two wins in the 600 cc Supersport races. He now has a remarkable 14 wins to his name on the Isle of Man.

“Hutchy” has also enjoyed success with the Tyco BMW S 1000 RR on the racetrack, in the Superstock class of the British Superbike Championship. He has contested five races so far in this series, and has ended up on the podium after all five. Hutchinson currently lies second in the championship. Only last weekend he claimed a dominant – and very special – win in Snetterton. This was his first victory at a racetrack since his crash. Among the first to congratulate him were the doctor who treated Hutchinson back then, and who was in Snetterton as a guest.

In an interview, “Hutchy” speaks about his unusual route into motorcycle racing, the Isle of Man, and his special relationship with the RR. He also has an important piece of advice for aspiring young riders.

An unusual route into motorcycle racing

Question: “When was the moment you knew that you wanted to be a professional race rider?”

Ian Hutchinson: “Strange, really, because I never aimed to be a professional race rider. I just took my test when I was 17 and rode road bikes until I was 21, started club racing – just for fun – and then wanted to win races and moved on and on. And then, almost accidently, became professional.”

Question: “You are a road racer but also a circuit racer – what would you say you are more? A road or a circuit racer?”

Hutchinson: “Probably my most success is from road racing, but I think this is mainly because I started so late in racing and then my success came first with roads. Regarding circuit racing, I did not have much opportunity and chance to race on short circuits. As soon as I started to win road races, everyone wanted to give me stuff for the road, but not so much for the track. So I am always fighting to approve myself for the circuits.”

Question: “And what do you like more?”

Hutchinson: “I enjoy both a lot. It is totally different and throughout the year, obviously, the road racing is not enough for me. I only participate in three races in May, June and August and the season is over. I have to be racing more than this, so I like competing in the British championship also.”

The stunning comeback

Question: “There were times when you did not know if you would even be able to race a bike again. But afterwards you had a brilliant comeback. How sweet is the success you are having after your accident?”

Hutchinson: “More than anything that I did before. I think it would have always been incredible to win one TT after the accident, and maybe if something else had stopped me I could have been happy that I came back and I won again. But now I have won the TT six times after the accident, and I have only two more to win and I will be more successful after the accident than before.”

Question: “You were the first ever rider to win all five races of a Isle of Man TT week. What is the secret of winning there?”

Hutchinson: “There is no secret. It was a bit of luck as well at some of the races I won, but I think when I came back – after my accident in 2010 and then four years of riding injured or not riding at all – I felt most comfortable on every bike in every class and I was fast in every class. And there are not so many riders who are fast in every class.”

Question: “Can you describe for those of us who never had the experience, what it is like to race on the Isle of Man?”

Hutchinson: “It is scary – before the race. It is fun – after the race (smiles). Obviously, when you are trying to win, you forget a lot of the race because you are there pushing just to win the race. You do enjoy it, but it is hard to enjoy it during the race. In practice week it is sometimes nicer, because there is no pressure to race.”

Question: “What is your answer for people who are saying road racing is too dangerous?”

Hutchinson: “So is climbing Mount Everest. I think as the TT is for two weeks only, everything that can happen happens in two weeks. So afterwards everybody talks about the bad sides. If you could only climb Mount Everest for two weeks each year, how many people would die in these two weeks? So there would be a big focus on it and people would say: ‘This has to be stopped’. But it is spread out over the year and gets forgotten. Someone might die on Everest and it is a couple of months before it happens again. But in horse racing all kinds of things happen, people get hurt, when you watch it you think it is crazy when an accident happens to somebody. But this is what we choose to do, the same as people in other sports choose to do what they do.”

“Hutchy“ and the RR: It just clicked

Question: “It is your first season on the Tyco BMW S 1000 RR. What do you like about the bike?”

Hutchinson: “Since I first got on it the bike has just been very natural for me to ride. It is a comfortable bike to ride hard. I just clicked with the bike. I think at a point in everybody’s career they have one bike they click with, and this is the bike I have clicked with for now.”

Question: “You have also proved that in the Superstock class of the BSB, having been on the podium in every race so far and winning just recently last weekend. This must also make you very satisfied…”

Hutchinson: “Yes, it is great to be back on that level in circuit racing. I have sat and watched the Superstock races over the years and I did a Superstock race in 2015. That was terrible, I finished 21st and I saw the leaders qualifying and I just thought: ‘Wow, I don’t think I can ever do this again’. But I am back and I am fast, and when testing in Snetterton I was even one second under the lap record. It is amazing to be back and I love the fact I can do that again.“

Question: “Do you have any hobbies or interests that are not related to racing at all?”

Hutchinson: “Not really, everything kind of revolves about it. Motocross, trials riding, mountain biking, racing and so on. I used to snowboard, but I can’t do it anymore with my leg.”

Be patient and have fun

Question: “How would your perfect weekend off look like?”

Hutchinson: “Tough really, because if it would be a weekend in between races, it would probably be away abroad somewhere, just having a nice time by the pool, in the sun. But if it would be when you have already had a month without racing, like in winter, you would think ‘ah, I want to be on a bike’. So I would go motocross riding or trials riding.”

Question: “What advice would you give young riders who dream about also being a road racer or a track racer?”

Hutchinson: “I think the number one thing is to be patient and enjoy it. You can’t force it and it is hard to be patient at the time, because you think if you lose one race, if you are injured and you lose one race, it is the end of the world for a young kid. But they have so much time ahead, so I think if you have a bad year you just have to work on why it was bad and try to do something different to change that – and just enjoy it. Because it is over so fast. I was with my team before the North West 200 at a race at Oulton Park and we were talking about the North West and they were saying: ‘Oh, one week only until the North West’ and I said: ‘Hey, in no time it will be the end of the Isle of Man TT’. May and June pass by like a flick. So you have to try and enjoy it because it is gone before you know it.”

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