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Swan Yamaha set for MCE BSB title defence with Hill and Hutchinson

Wednesday, December 21 2011

The Swan Yamaha team will defend their MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship title in 2012 as Shaun Muir Racing (SMR) has today (Wednesday) confirmed their line up of reigning British champion Tommy Hill and TT record-breaker Ian Hutchinson.

Reigning champion Hill will make his much-anticipated BSB return after claiming a maiden crown in sensational style in the final race of 2011 at Brands Hatch last October. The Lingfield ace defeated rival John Hopkins by just 0.006 seconds following a last lap battle for supremacy before celebrating the victory with the fans trackside. Hill's return makes him the first British BSB champion to defend the number one plate since John Reynolds in 2005 and he is now determined to become the third rider in history to win consecutive BSB titles.

Hutchinson completes the team's line-up as the record-breaking five-time Isle of Man TT winner embarks on his first full season of BSB after a dramatic comeback from a broken tibia and fibula which required several operations to save his leg. Hutchinson had been sidelined since the crash at the penultimate round of the 2010 season before making his comeback at the Macau Grand Prix last month where he celebrated a podium finish.

Hill and Hutchinson will again line up with the striking Swan livery after SMR confirmed that the market leader in the smokers accessories market, manufacturing a range of high quality filter tips, rolling papers, matches and lighters, will remain as the team's title sponsor for a third season. Swan will also remain as an official partner to the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship. 

Hill said: "At the end of last season after winning the title I was speaking to different teams and looking at the different championships, but I knew I needed to have the complete package. I have a lot of fans in BSB and I think having a British champion trying to hold on to the number one plate is something to get excited about; I certainly am! I really wanted to stay with Yamaha and build on the results and our relationship. The Swan Yamaha team have won one BSB title but now we are looking at how we can improve so we can do it again. The consistency with the team is very important and they have already started looking at what we can do to move forward again. The rule changes don't worry me as through most of my career I haven't used traction control. I think it will now come down more to rider input and also working as a team to get the chassis set up right. I know there has already been hard work behind the scenes at the workshop and as a rider that really gives me confidence before we even begin testing.

"I think going into next season there is probably less pressure on me than there was last year despite being the champion. If anyone had asked me before last year what my ambitions were the answer was always to win the BSB title. That is now complete but now that I have it, I certainly won't be giving it up without a fight. I am treating next year in the same way I did last season because I definitely want to keep hold of the number one plate for myself and the Swan Yamaha team."

Hutchinson said: "Next year is definitely a big one for me and I have never been looking forward to a season so much. I am glad that I had the opportunity to race at the end of this year as I have always had faith in my own ability but I just needed to prove to any doubters that I could still race. I have wanted to race in BSB for several years but the right opportunity has never been there and that makes 2012 a big year for me. For the last three years I have won in the British Supersport and National Superstock classes, but I haven't really had full seasons to be able to fight for the title. I think the knowledge I have of riding a Superbike on the roads will help me, and in that respect the new rules will too as I have never ridden with all the gizmos. I tested the Swan Yamaha before Macau and it is a great bike to ride; everything about it feels good so I can't see any reason why I can't run at the front.

"I am over my injury now; I currently still use the right-hand gear shift that the team adapted for me to run at Macau but it is not a concern. The team have got it working perfectly for me so I just feel ready to get out testing as soon as possible! I think the injury and the year just watching from the sidelines has definitely made me want it more; I want to prove that I can still be successful and I am determined to show that. The crash doesn't faze me and I don't think of it as traumatic, but as an experience. I was just unlucky that I got hit and injured the leg so badly. As a rider it hasn't affected me as something like that can happen at any time. Now I just want to race and my aim is to get the results myself and the Swan Yamaha team deserve both in BSB and at the TT."

Team Owner Shaun Muir said: "Everyone at SMR has been working behind the scenes since the end of the 2011 season. We knew that we wanted to have continuity in the team with Tommy to try and retain the BSB crown, which everyone knows is never easy. For that to happen we wanted to give him everything he requires in order to achieve it and we have been working hard on giving him an extremely competitive package and I believe we are already ahead of the game. The team are focused and we are obviously delighted to be defending the number one plate with Tommy. He wants to win another BSB championship as much as he wanted to win his maiden one last season.

"We were then looking at our options for a second rider. Our goals as a team and for Yamaha are to win the BSB title and win at the Isle of Man TT. We reviewed our options carefully and I have been impressed with Ian Hutchinson, not only his race craft but also his ability to work with the team and his determination to return from injury. He has spent a lot of time in the garage with us this year and his recent performance at the Macau Grand Prix proved he is over his injury now. Hutchy will be with the team for two seasons (2012 and 2013) and we are committed to him; I really want to turn him into the complete racer that can win in both disciplines. He has the potential so we want to be able to give him the opportunity to excel. We are now looking forward to working again with Swan and our new partners for the forthcoming season. We are also fielding Wesley Pearce in the Superstock class and look forward to developing his riding over the course of the year, with a view that he can progress into British Supersport in 2013."

Mark Alldred, Swan Marketing Manager at Republic Technologies (UK), said: "Last season was fantastic for the Swan Yamaha team and to be part of a BSB championship victory was a special moment for all of us. It couldn't have been closer with just 0.006 seconds - or a Swan rolling paper - between Tommy and John Hopkins for the title. We first joined the SMR team in 2010 and since then the team has continued to progress. We are delighted that Tommy is back to run the number one plate and also to have such a successful TT rider with Ian as we prepare for our first visit to the Isle of Man. We wish them both the best of luck for the new season.

"BSB continues to be one of the most prestigious motorbike racing series in the world and is a perfect fit for an iconic British brand that is synonymous with quality and performance. More than 8.5M viewers tune in to watch the BSB Championships and 418,000 spectators attend across the 12 events. We are looking forward to lighting up the track again in 2012 and competing for a second BSB title."

For more information on BSB click this link to visit the official homepage.