Team IWR has announced a switch to BMW machinery for the 2014 MCE British Superbike Championship season, with Michael Rutter staying on board and the team welcoming back Patric Muff.
The team, which returned to BSB competition in 2013 under the Bathams banner, entered a pair of Hondas for Rutter and Tommy Bridewell initially, but endured a season best by technical issues.
For 2014, IWR – which will continue to run under the Bathams banner in a nod to Rutter's long-term sponsor – will switch to BMW machinery for the first time in an effort to replicate the performance of Supersonic and Buildbase before it in reaching the Title Showdown.
Almost two decades after making his BSB debut, Rutter is looking forward to riding the BMW S1000RR in a racing capacity for the first time.
“I am really excited about this season and with new bikes it feels like a new start,” Rutter, who made his 400th BSB start in 2013, said. “I rode a BMW Superstock bike at the North West 200 back in 2010 and it was mega then so I am really looking forward to giving the Superbike a go.
“Over the past few seasons different teams have shown what a fantastic package the BMW is in BSB and the fact that it has featured in the Showdown for the past two seasons proves that.
“I think looking ahead to this season that is what we should be setting ourselves as a goal; the top six is always going to be difficult because of the level of competition but that has to be what we are aiming for this year."
Muff, meanwhile, returns to BSB after competing with IWR (under its former Tyco Honda guise) in 2011 and Supersonic BMW in 2012.
"I am over the moon to finally be back on the BSB grid this season - it feels like a birthday and Christmas all at once,” the Swiss rider said. “I was working hard last year to come back and after a year without racing I will be concentrating on one race at a time, but of course my first goal is to have a solid start to the season at Brands Hatch.
“I believe that we have a very strong package; I know the team very well and they are working very hard to provide me with a competitive bike and then it's in my turn to fight on the track for good results. I had some offers from teams in other championships, but for me there was always only one goal and that was to be back in BSB."
"We are all really motivated for the new season and with the massive changes over the winter this really is a new era for the whole team,” added team manager Ian Woollacott. “We have worked hard to make this all possible and we have big ambitions for this season. The BMW has proven its potential in the championship and we are excited about getting testing underway with the new bikes.
“The BSB grid wouldn't be the same without Michael and I am happy to welcome Patric back into the team. This season should be one of our biggest yet and I am looking forward to getting started."