Ian Lougher will return to the Isle of Man TT for the first time in three years to ride the Suter MMX 500 on the Mountain Course.
The 53-year-old announced his retirement following the Senior race in 2013, although Lougher has competed in selected events since, including the Classic TT.
He won the Bennetts 500 race in 2014 plus the Motorsport Merchandise Formula 2 event and looked poised to retain his 500 title last year before incurring a 30 second penalty for speeding in pit lane.
One of the most experienced TT riders around, Lougher is the perfect candidate to lead Swiss manufacturer Suter’s challenge on the Grand Prix-inspired two-stroke racer.
The road racing veteran reunites with former rival Eskil Suter - now CEO of Suter Racing - whom Lougher competed against in the 1991 250cc European Championship.
“I really warmed to Estil Suter’s approach on this project. Despite the emotions that are undoubtedly attached to something of this nature, Suter Racing is approaching it both objectively and professionally, which is the only way to go racing on the TT course,” said Lougher, who runs his own ILR team in the British championship.
“We want to learn the MMX 500 in the next three years to tackle the TT step by step before we can be properly competitive and it might seem strange for an old fella to say it, but you can always learn something new on the Isle of Man. However, I’m sure the spectators are in for a treat from the word go.”
The ‘Welsh Wizard’ made his debut on the Snaefell Mountain Course in a memorable 1983 Manx Grand Prix Newcomers Race, finishing third to Robert Dunlop and Steve Hislop.
He claimed his maiden TT victory in the 1990 Lightweight race in one of the closest races in the event’s history, winning by only 1.8 seconds from Scottish legend Hislop. Lougher set new lap and race records in the process, which stood for nine years.
A top class, two-stroke exponent, Lougher is the only rider ever to have won five consecutive 125cc races at the North West 200.
His TT career stretched almost three decades from 1984 to 2013, during which time Lougher racked up ten wins and set a record of 126 race starts. He has also earned more race replicas than any other rider.
The Suter MMX 500 V4 two-stroke produces a claimed 195bhp and weighs only 127kg, capable of reaching a top speed of 193mph.
Only 99 have been developed, aimed at wealthy private amateur racers and boasting a hefty price tag of 120,000 euros (£85,000).
Suter intends to run a second rider at the TT, with Michael Rutter understood to be in talks to join Lougher.