Last year Ian Hutchinson was a valued commodity.
Honda snapped him as a banker for success in the Isle of Man Centenary TT, alongside their other top name John McGuinness.
And Hutchinson delivered, winning the Supersport race as well as finishing on the podium in the superbike and superstock.
He was also a leading contender in British Supersport but along with John McGuinness, he was left on the sidelines for 2008 following Honda’s decision to quit the Isle of Man TT. Until now.
Ian Hutchinson has finally secured a competitive for British Supersport, as well as the roads with AIM Yamaha while Steve Plater continues to ride for the team in British Superbikes.
Ian Hutchinson spoke to MCN about his new deal for 2008…
MCN: You finally secured a ride for next year. Was it a case of finding the right deal to suit you for the short circuits and the roads?
Ian Hutchinson: Exactly what I wanted was what I had with Honda. Just like John (McGuinness) it’s nothing we’ve done wrong, it’s just down to politics.
Alastair Flanagan (AIM Racing owner) offered me the deal at Brands in the final BSB meeting of the year.
But we only finally agreed the deal recently. We’ve got two brand new R6s and I’m really looking forward to the new season.
MCN: It took you a while to get going last year on the short circuits with the Bike Animal Honda but in the latter half of the year things really came together. Why was that?
Ian Hutchinson: It was a brand new bike and took a while to get it how I wanted it. The bike was a lot different to the ’06 bike but the team tried to run it the same.
Then Leon Camier rode it in the test at Cadwell before we went to Croft and confirmed everything I’d been saying.
Then the boys changed the bike to suit me and we were away. I qualified on the front row several times and turned the season around.
MCN: Then you were given Leon Camier’s superbike after he was injured at Cadwell Park. Bearing in mind you were in your first season with a major team, would you have preferred to have seen out the supersport season?
Ian Hutchinson: I actually wanted to do both but they wouldn’t let me do that.
I really wanted to stay on the 600 but I guess they were grooming (Steve) Brogan for the 2008 supersport ride and didn’t give me any choice but to ride the superbike. It was a good experience.
MCN: So your AIM deal, it includes the roads too?
Ian Hutchinson: Yeah, their ’07 superbike has done very little so I’ll have that, plus a superstocker. And I’ll ride the supersport bike in the British Championship.
MCN: Compared to the Hondas you raced this year, are the Yamahas good enough to get the jobs done on short circuits and on the roads?
Ian Hutchinson: Well (Steve) Plater won the North West on the R1, beating the factory bikes! He did 126mph on it at the (Isle of Man) TT as a rookie.
And all I saw when I rode in British Supersport was Billy McConnell’s Virgin R6 sucking the stickers of my bike. And it looked a sight more nimble than mine too.
In superstock form the R1 was a lot better bike than the Honda. People have said for a while that the R1 is the bike to have in superstock.
But there is a new Honda this year so we’ll have to wait and see.