The World Superbike championship promises to bring new excitement for 2016. New bikes, and above all, new riders are adding an international flavor and much more interest to the series.
WSBK had already gained a top-flight American rider, with Nicky Hayden joining the Ten Kate Honda team, but now they have a top Australian rider as well.
Today, the Milwaukee team, run by Shaun Muir, announced that they will be making the switch from the BSB championship to World Superbikes, taking reigning BSB champion Josh Brookes along with them.
The big news out of the Isle of Man TT today is that Michael Dunlop is dumping the Milwaukee Yamaha team, and its 2015 Yamaha YZF-R1 race package, in favor for a BMW S1000RR in Stuart Hicken’s Buildbase BMW team.
The move comes after critical practice days were lost to bad weather on the Isle of Man, which in-turn caused Dunlop to feel that he could not tame the R1 in time for the 1,000cc bike races.
The nephew of Joey Dunlop has come into his own now as a racer, taking many of the race victories in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, and with a good ride underneath him, a sweep of the TT races is not outside the realm of possibilities.
Again we get a late answer, as we have news today that Michael Dunlop has signed with the Milwaukee Yamaha team for the 2015 Isle of Man TT.
After an announcement in early January that Milwaukee Power Tools had withdrawn its support of Shaun Muir’s Yamaha team, due to a major rule changes that restricted the use of aftermarket ECUs, it looked as though Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes might have had to sit out this year’s Isle of Man TT; and had the team been forced to run factory ECUs, it would have placed them at a serious disadvantage and left them unable to be competitive.
Although there is no word on exactly how the team managed to negotiate an exception to the new rule change, the Isle of Man TT Press Office has confirmed that Ian Hutchinson and Josh Brookes will be riding for the Milwaukee Yamaha Team in this year’s TT. Both riders are scheduled to compete in the Dainese Superbike TT, two Monster Energy Supersport TT races, and the Pokerstars Senior TT event.
Defying the odds against him, Ian Hutchinson has won the 2013 Macau GP, beating fierce competitor Michael Rutter in the shortened race. Hutchinson took the lead from Rutter on the fourth lap of fifteen, though a crash on the eleventh lap by Dean Harrison brought the Macau GP to an early end.
Thankfully Harrison was unhurt by the crash, though his bike was in the middle of the course, and forced race officials to red flag the race. Despite the premature ending, there can be no question that it was Hutchinson’s day, as the man from Bingley had a solid two-second gap over Rutter.
Coming off an eighteen month recovery period, Hutchinson’s win reconfirms the young Yorkshireman as a true talent in road racing, with today’s Macau GP win adding another impressive entry on Hutchinson’s already illustrious resumé, which includes a clean sweep of the 2010 Isle of Man TT’s five solo-class races.
“It’s probably one of the most special wins I’ve ever had with what’s gone on in the last few years, but hopefully now I can move on to carrying on back where I left off three years ago,” said Hutchinson after the race.
The Macau GP is this weekend, and it is already shaping up to be a great event after today’s qualifying. Normally this is a race that Michael Rutter dominates (the Brit has eight Macau GP race wins to his name), but this year sees a new name on the leaderboard at the conclusion of the two qualifying sessions: Ian Hutchinson.
The only man to ever win all five solo races at the Isle of Man TT, Hutchinson was all the talk in 2010, but the Bingly man has seen his last two seasons hampered with tough recoveries from leg injuries.
Though finally healthy, many were beginning to wonder if Hutchy had lost his pace on a motorbike — his performance today on the Milwaukee Yamaha YZF-R1 has ended that talk though.
The second installment of Dainese’s little Isle of Man TT video series, we get to hear from Milwaukee Yamaha rider Conor Cummins. “You should be fully focused on the road ahead, because it bites hard,” says Cummins in the video. No rider should know the truth of those words better than Conor, as in the 2010 TTT the Manx man had a horrific crash that he was lucky to survive.
Back to full-health now, Cummins clocked a third in the Lightweight TT, a fifth in the Superbike TT, and a fifteenth in the second Supersport TT. The fastest Manx rider ever around the Isle of Man’s Mountain Course, Cummins is the pride of the Isle, and a serious contender in any race he enters.
However, Milwaukee Yamaha didn’t get the results they wanted this year, but you can’t rule Cummins out for 2014. As he says himself, “we’re not going racing to finish second. We’re going to win.”
Like the sidecars, the Isle of Man TT features two Supersport races during the TT fortnight, and the Supersport TT has riders taking their600cc class machinery for a shorter four-lap race.
A stepping stone from the Lightweight class, which is limited to sub-650cc twins, the Supersports serve as a gateway to the bigger bikes, and usually have a different mix of riders filling vying for the front.
With the foul weather from the practice week behind them, the TT riders were treated with a perfect day for racing on The Rock, and we have a full report on who made it into the winner’s circle after the jump.