North West 200: Ian Hutchinson back in the saddle
The forgotten man of the British Supersport Championship, Ian Hutchinson, has been back in the saddle this week, riding the Padgett’s Honda’s at the North West 200.
The 29-year old, without a ride for the short circuits in 2009, signed a deal with the Batley motorcycle dealers for the three International road races and, aside from six days of testing in Spain in March, Tuesday was the first time he’d been out on a bike since the Macau GP last November.
A winner already at the NW200, Isle of Man TT and Ulster GP, Hutchy is expected to again be challenging for honours this season and has a full compliment of machinery for the meetings ahead, including the Honda Fireblade that John McGuinness rode to victory in last year’s Senior TT.
The Bingley rider professed himself reasonably happy at the conclusion of Thursday’s qualifying session although he admitted it took him a while to get up to speed after almost six months away from a race meeting.
“There were a few cobwebs to blow away on Tuesday night and it definitely took me a few laps to get dialled in but we chipped away and I feel 100% now.
“We had a few problems with the Superbike on Tuesday night as the bike was weaving really badly on the long, high-speed run from Station to University and it was difficult to hold on to.
“I was having to roll off a bit, which obviously loses you time, but I wasn’t alone as a few of the other boys were having similar problems. We tried a new tyre and that helped a bit but we made quite a few changes to the rear of the bike although the weather on Thursday meant we couldn’t really try them out properly.”
“There’s nothing wrong with the speed with any of the bikes and we should be there or thereabouts in all of the classes so I’m looking forward to the races on Saturday.
“The 600 is a brand new bike and it literally hadn’t even turned a wheel before Tuesday night but I felt comfortable straight away and whilst we certainly could have done with a bit more time on the bikes, everyone’s in the same boat.
“The forecast for Saturday isn’t too great but I’m reasonably happy with where we are so we’ll have to see what happens. It’s good be back out on the bike again and Clive and the Padgett’s team have given me great support so I’m all ready to go.”
Hutchinson was second fastest in the wet Superbike session on Thursday evening but will line up on the fifth row of the grid in 15th after times were taken from Tuesday’s dry session whilst he’ll occupy 5th place on the Supersport grid and 11th for the Superstock race.