Ian Hutchinson has likened the recovery period from the infamous left leg injuries that so very nearly prematurely ended his career to a lengthy hangover, and explained the biggest obstacle to regaining his competitiveness was learning to change gears with his right foot, he said on Tuesday.
Hutchinson was awarded with the Torrens Trophy in London as reward for his sizeable achievements in the wake of his now legendary comeback from over twenty operations on a left leg broken at the close of 2010.
Joining names like Tom Sykes and Shane Byrne as recent recipients of the prestigious award presented by the Royal Automobile Club, eleven-time TT winner Hutchinson spoke of the “long spell of horrible days and nights” in recovery as he sought to prove the legions of fans and pundits who felt his career was over wrong.
“When you're injured and lying in a bed you're quite scared of a motorbike and you don't want to ride it,” the 36-year old from Bingley told a small audience at the Royal Automobile Club on London's Pall Mall. “But as soon as that pain goes away it's like a hangover, when you think you're never going to drink again until the hangover is gone. Then you're back out drinking.
“I wanted to get back there on the Isle of Man after I had missed out on what I saw as potentially twenty extra TT wins. To get back from that it was even more difficult. Everything I did was to get back to a winning position.”
Ian Hutchinson awarded prestigious Torrens Trophy
EXCLUSIVE: Eleven-time Isle of Man TT winner and road racing legend Ian Hutchinson is awarded the prestigious Torrens Trophy in recognition for his achievements on two wheels. Crash.net sat down with a proud 'Hutchy' to discuss what this historic accolade means to him.Posted by Crash.net on Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Leading names from two-wheel racing like John Surtees, Murray Walker and James Toseland joined the plaudits for Hutchinson, who went on to explain the greatest test of his recovery period; learning to change gear with his right foot.
“I became pretty obsessed with asking my surgeon about putting the foot lift back on my leg so I could change gear. He eventually said to me why don't you just change gear with your right foot? This is coming from someone who is obviously very good at being a surgeon but not very good at racing a motorbike.
“I said to him that he had absolutely no idea what it would be like changing gear with your right foot. When I went away from it I thought that this was my only option and that was probably the only time that I thought that I might not be able to win.
“It works good now and when I watch bike racing I see guys coming along straights and I expect their right legs to start moving,” he said, before quipping, “I'm hoping at some point it's made compulsory!”
Hutchinson put his career path back on track by winning the Macau Grand Prix at the close of 2013 but was subsequently let down at the following year's international road races by uncompetitive machinery.
A seat aboard Paul Bird's Kawasaki team and a last-minute deal to seal a place in Keith Flint's Traction Control Yamaha R6 bore immediate fruit at the 2015 event as he stormed to two hard-fought wins in the Supersport class and one in the Superstock event.
His 2015 haul brought him alongside road-racing legends Steve Hislop, Phillip McCallen and Michael Dunlop on eleven TT wins.
“I had to beg Keith [Flint] to let me ride the bike just before the TT. I was going down a route with MV Agusta motorcycles. That obviously would have been nice being at the TT with an MV but in the end it didn't come together and a last-minute deal was put together with Keith for me to come aboard with one of my mechanics from the year before. After three laps of practice we won both races. It was pretty special.”
While Hutchinson stays with Flint's Traction Control outfit for the 2016 Supersport events, he has joined Tyco BMW for the Superbike and Superstock races at the international events.
“[With the R6] It will be nice to go into this year with a bike that I've ridden and have experience on. The BMW deal was a no-brainer,” he said. “It was the only bike that passed me in a straight line last year so it's a fast bike.”