Ian Hutchinson has sealed an eleventh hour deal to ride a Yamaha R6 in the Supersport class at the Isle of Man TT for Prodigy star Keith Flint’s Team Traction Control outfit.
Hutchinson had been due to ride an MV Agusta for Tsingtao Racing on the Mountain Course after competing on the 675cc machine at the North West 200, but the plans fell through, with the team pledging to ‘continue development after this year’s TT’ with the aim of renewing its project to enter the iconic road race in 2016.
‘Bingley Bullet’ Hutchinson, who made history when he won five solo races at the TT during an incredible year in 2010, raised expectations over his chances of returning to the rostrum in June after a brilliant effort at the North West on Paul Bird’s Kawasakis, finishing as the runner-up in the sole Superbike race behind Alastair Seeley and returning to the rostrum on the ZX-10R in the Superstock event behind Lee Johnston and Seeley to bag an excellent third place.
It remains to be seen if Hutchinson can build on his promise at the TT, where practice gets under way on Saturday evening for solo and sidecar newcomers and Lightweight competitors (6.20pm), but the 35-year-old has top class machinery at his disposal, with his PBM line-up complemented by the TCC Yamaha R6 for both Monster Energy Supersport events.
Hutchinson said: “It is a privilege to be working with Keith Flint and the team and I know how much they love their racing.
“I have worked with Grant [Bunting] from TTC before so to be able to have this opportunity to work with them is just what I need.
“I am looking forward to it and as I haven’t ridden the TTC bike before we need to have a good practice week and get a feel for it, but I know the team have the ability from what they have done this season and in the past,” added the eight-time TT winner.
“We just need to get our heads down and then hopefully my confidence that I have had this year from Superbike and Superstock can cross over into Supersport too. I want to go out and have a good go at it that’s for sure.”
Meanwhile, Eugene Laverty ended the opening day of free practice for Sunday’s sixth round of the MotoGP World Championship at Mugello in Italy in 24th position on the combined times.
The Aspar Honda rider, who confirmed he will not receive the updated swingarm this weekend made available to his American team-mate Nicky Hayden at the previous round at Le Mans in France, crashed out unhurt at the final turn in FP2 in the afternoon and missed his chance to better his time on the Open class RC213V-RS.
“I’d gone a long time without crashing and now we have had five crashes since Jerez,” Laverty said.
“All of them have been the same, losing the front, so we have to work to improve the set-up and get the front wheel to completely stop sliding.
“I have confidence in the front tyre and I always try to push, so we have to find a set-up for the forks that is much more secure in order to prevent crashes,” he added.
“The lap was still very good, with new tyres, but it was a shame about the crash. I accept my part of the responsibility but hopefully we can learn from this fall.”
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso topped both sessions on the GP15, ending the day with a best lap in 1m 47.479s to lead Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha).