Tommy Hill has confirmed that he has put plans to return to the British Superbike Championship with his own team on hold after failing to secure the necessary funding.
Hill, who won the BSB title for Swan Yamaha in 2011, spent the 2013 season on the sidelines after opting to take a sabbatical from the sport, but has recently made public his desire to return to the series in 2014, albeit in a managerial capacity.
Approaching former partners and sponsors with a view to setting up a competitive operation with two high-profile riders, Hill had set himself a target of having the necessary funding in place by the end of October so as not to make commitments to sponsors, riders or team member he couldn't fulfil down the line.
However, while he was pleased with the positive response from prospective sponsors, he says his plan is currently only '70 per cent there', leaving him with no choice but to put his plans on hold for at least a year.
"Over the last 4 months I have been working hard, to try and secure the full team funding in which I would need to be able to make a return to the British Superbike championship,” he wrote on his official Facebook page. “I spent a long time working on a realistic development scheme, with a fully detailed business plan for which would of been a competitive BSB team.
“I managed to retain and gain the backing from various ex-partners and sponsors as well as new companies that have been a major part of my career, with some very reasonable funding in place and confirmed. As I made clear at the start from any interview or publication, I wanted to develop a good strong team, and make sure I had the full funds in place to achieve a professionally run operation. I had to make a decision by the end of October/November whether or not I could do the job 100 per cent with what funding I had in place. I had to be honest with myself, and not commit to something that was only around 70% there.
“As well as not letting any sponsor, mechanic or rider down in the process. I personally believe with the new rules being put into place over the last few years, it is possibly the best time to be competitive as a team or rider if managed well.
In the meantime, Hill continues to rule out a return to racing, but insists he wants to remain involved in the sport.
“I still very much want to be associated or have involvement in the sport in some way. I still want to continue my break from the sport, and possibly turn the page to a new chapter. I know I have had a good career the last few years, and still believe as good as it is winning races, winning titles, still having an everlasting impact in the sport I have grown up doing and love, is something I still want to achieve. Whether rider coaching to team direction, it would still be great to be involved in some way"
Hill's announcement comes less than a week after John Hopkins – who Hill beat to the 2011 title in a thrilling final race showdown – announced his returning to BSB with Tyco Suzuki.