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Isle of Man TT rejects claim Honda influenced rule changes

Ian Hutchinson celebrates winning the Macau Grand Prix

Ian Hutchinson celebrates winning the Macau Grand Prix

The Isle of Man TT organisers have rejected a suggestion that Honda influenced the decision to implement a change in regulations for the Superbike class at the event in 2014.

The claim was made in an official statement issued by Milwaukee Power Tools - title sponsors of Shaun Muir’s British Superbike and international road racing team.

In a press release issued shortly before 8pm on Saturday evening, Milwaukee confirmed it had withdrawn its support of Muir’s outfit at the TT due to a change in the rules governing the use of electronic systems.

Muir - who had already threatened to boycott the event as a result of the new rules - believes his riders, Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes, have been placed at a disadvantage by the change, which prevents the use of sophisticated after-market ECUs such as the Magneti Marelli system used on the Milwaukee Yamaha YZF-R1s on the roads.

Teams have the option of operating a Motec system in line with British Superbike regulations or standard kit ECUs, however Milwaukee’s argument is that Yamaha’s kit system is much less advanced than those developed by rival manufacturers, while the cost of switching to the Motec ECU would incur a bill in the region of £30,000.

Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and BMW support the alteration in regulations for the 2014 TT races, but it would now seem Hutchinson - who battled his way back to fitness to win on his latest comeback at the Macau Grand Prix - and the TT’s fastest ever newcomer, Aussie BSB star Brookes, are poised to miss the world’s leading roads meeting in June.

The Milwaukee announcement claimed: “The forced ECU changes, suggested at the outset by Honda, would have made all SMR road racing machinery less competitive than its rivals, and the control ECU that SMR would have been forced to fit [Motec] – gives less control than that of their main competitors’ Kit systems.”

In a statement issued to the News Letter on Sunday night, the TT organisers rejected the implication that the changes had been put in place at Honda’s behest.

“The Department of Economic Development and ACU Events Ltd, organisers of the Isle of Man TT Races, regret the decision by Milwaukee Power Tools to withdraw their sponsorship from Shaun Muir Racing (SMR) for the 2014 Isle of Man TT races as a result of a regulation change in the Superbike class.

“ACU Events Ltd amended the regulations following consultation with the motorcycle manufacturers as part of a longer-term strategy to contain costs for the TT teams and competitors.

“Despite extensive mediation and consultation with SMR, which began in July 2013, ACU Events Ltd is disappointed that the team has rejected the compromise proposed for the 2014 Races,” the statement continued.

“At no point did any one manufacturer influence the decision and after discussions with a number of competitors, ACU Events Ltd does not believe that it will in any way compromise rider safety, which remains the organisation’s utmost priority.”

Milwaukee also said talks had been ongoing with a third rider over plans to ride for SMR at the TT.

Milwaukee will continue to back the team in BSB and at the North West 200, Ulster GP and Macau.

 

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