Ian Hutchinson says it never crossed his mind to give up on racing following his latest health set-back as he prepares to mount a return to road racing with Milenco Padgetts Honda at the 2024 North West 200 and Isle of Man TT.
A 16-time race winner at the TT - placing him fifth on the all-time winners’ ranking - Hutchinson reunites with Clive Padgett for the coming season, fourteen years on from achieving his record-breaking run of five victories at the 2010 TT with the Padgetts Honda team.
The announcement comes after Hutchinson was forced to sit out the entirety of the 2023 racing season after suffering a stroke while training last February. Though a swift recovery would see Hutchinson continue his preparations for 2023 NW200 and TT, the confiscation of his racing licence by the ACU on health grounds would curtail his ambitions.
Nevertheless, Hutchinson - who continued with his training programme regardless - is on course to have his licence renewed on 1 March, paving the way for the 44-year old to tackle this year’s events as planned.
“I was well prepared for 2023 with a lot of testing and training in Spain before I had the stroke.” he said.
“It was taken away from me again but I have done what I’ve always done and carried on training. I’ve done it for years and years.
“I did it when I had a frame on my leg after 2010 so that I can be ready to go when I need to be because I have never thought it was time to quit.
“Despite everything that has happened I have always wanted to keep racing.”
“I am a realist,” says Hutchinson ahead of NW200, TT return
The stroke marks the latest debilitating chapter among a catalogue of injuries and illness to strike Hutchinson ever since his golden streak of blue riband road racing titles in 2010 at the NW200, Isle of Man TT, Ulster Grand Prix and Scarborough Gold Cup.
Struck down at his peak by a serious leg injury sustained in a multi-bike British Supersport accident at Silverstone in September 2010, Hutchinson would undergo more than 40 operations in the coming years and not return to full-time racing until 2012.
Going on to win the Macau Grand Prix in 2013, the success triggered another strong period of form for Hutchinson that yielded eight more victories at the TT until a crash during the 2017 Senior TT resulted in a broken leg once again and another spell out of action.
His most recent outing at the TT came in 2022 with Hutchinson’s strongest result during the fortnight occurring in the Superbike TT with a run to fourth place on the TAS Racing-prepared Milwaukee BMW M 1000 RR.
Looking ahead to his 2024 schedule, while Hutchinson says it would take a ‘miracle’ for him to get back to winning ways at either the NW200 or TT, he has faith in his ‘not giving up’ attitude.
“I am a realist.” he admits. “It would be a miracle to come back and win.
“I made it happen in Macau in 2013 after the 2010 crash. I never gave up on it then. I know where I am now and I know where I can be. Only I can see that.”
Hutchinson, who replaces Davey Todd in the Milenco Padgetts team, will ride the Honda CBR1000RR-R in the Superbike and Superstock classes at both the NW200 and the TT, before taking to the all-new Honda CBR600RR in the Supersport class.