Ride of the Year – Ian Hutchinson, 3rd, Macau GP
There were a number of candidates for ‘Ride of the Year’ including Martin Jessopp’s 2nd place at the Macau GP, Guy Martin’s 2nd place in the Senior TT (which could only be admired given the events of 2010) and John McGuinness’ victory in that same race when he turned a 7-second deficit into a 13-second lead. Michael Dunlop’s victories at the Southern 100 and Ulster GP were also worthy of consideration as was brother William’s win in the Skerries Grand Final. However, in our view, there could only be one winner of this category and it was the man who was our rider of the year in 2010 – Ian Hutchinson.
Image: Stephen Davison - Pacemaker Press International
After being the undoubted man of the year in 2010, when he swept all before him – including that historic five-timer at the TT – Hutchy’s world came crashing down when he crashed at Silverstone in September that year and suffered a fractured leg. It was no ordinary fractured leg though and over the next few months he faced amputation on no less than three occasions and endured no less than 26 operations as he battled to race again and not only save his career but also his leg. His hopes of competing at the TT, his main focus, were ultimately dashed so he concentrated instead on getting fit for the end of the year where he planned to have a few shakedown tests and then compete at the Macau Grand Prix. Few would have ever expected him to not only compete but finish third and stand on the podium!
What he achieved in the Far East was nothing short of astounding when, despite not having raced in over 12 months and having only had a couple of hours of track time, he finished the race in a sensational third place. Riding the Swan Yamaha, the Bingley rider led in the early stages before being hunted down by the Ducati pairing of Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp but he crossed the line just a handful of seconds behind them at the end of the 10 laps so send a clear message to his rivals that he was back. It could only be described as a superhuman effort.
The events of 2011 will undoubtedly have made Hutchinson stronger mentally, something that was always one of his strengths before his accident, so he’ll come into 2012 ready to step back onto the winners spot on the podium. He’ll also be hungrier for success than ever before and with the recent announcement that he’ll contest a full season in the British Superbike Championship with Shaun Muir’s Swan Yamaha team, his contemporaries on the roads will certainly need to watch out as Hutchy’s most definitely back – and back to win!