Isle of Man TT record-breaker Ian Hutchinson will return to full-time racing for the first time in 18 months next season after being signed as partner to Tommy Hill at Swan Yamaha in British Superbikes.
The 32-year-old made history in 2010 when he became the first man to win five Isle of Man TT races in one event, but an accident during a British Supersport round shortly afterwards left him with serious leg injuries.
Forced to sit out the entire 2011 season, despite joining SMR with the intention to ride again at the Isle of Man TT, Hutchinson didn't make his return to action until the Macau Grand Prix last month. Nonetheless, SMR has renewed its faith in Hutchinson by re-signing him to compete in both the British Superbike Championship and the international road races next season.
Set to be his first appearance at BSB level since 2007 when he deputised for Leon Camier, Hutchinson is looking forward to re-joining the series and is confident the new regulations will benefit him.
"Next year is definitely a big one for me and I have never been looking forward to a season so much,” he said. “I am glad that I had the opportunity to race at the end of this year as I have always had faith in my own ability but I just needed to prove to any doubters that I could still race.
“I have wanted to race in BSB for several years but the right opportunity has never been there and that makes 2012 a big year for me. For the last three years I have won in the British Supersport and National Superstock classes, but I haven't really had full seasons to be able to fight for the title.
“I think the knowledge I have of riding a Superbike on the roads will help me, and in that respect the new rules will too as I have never ridden with all the gizmos. I tested the Swan Yamaha before Macau and it is a great bike to ride; everything about it feels good so I can't see any reason why I can't run at the front.”
Touching on the injury that kept him off a bike for a year, Hutchinson is confident he is back to full fitness now and has no lingering effects from the accident.
"I am over my injury now; I currently still use the right-hand gear shift that the team adapted for me to run at Macau but it is not a concern. The team have got it working perfectly for me so I just feel ready to get out testing as soon as possible! I think the injury and the year just watching from the sidelines has definitely made me want it more; I want to prove that I can still be successful and I am determined to show that.