Ian Hutchinson wins again at TT five years after almost losing a leg

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport at the Isle of Man TT
Ian Hutchinson acknowledges the spectators after his Isle of Man Supersport triumph on Monday
Ian Hutchinson clinched an emotional Isle of Man TT triumph five years after almost losing his leg following a crash at Silverstone

Ian Hutchinson's long road to recovery from horrific leg injuries to become an Isle of Man TT winner once again must rank as one of sport's most courageous stories of triumph in the face of adversity.

Tragedy all too often casts a dark shadow over the sternest test of man and machine on the world's most unforgiving circuit.

However, Hutchinson's sensational comeback victory in Monday's Supersport race evoked a palpable 'feelgood factor' among road race fans around the famous 37.73-mile Mountain Course and beyond.

For good measure, the Bingley rider added to that success by taking a second victory of the week in Tuesday's Superstock race as he overhauled Michael Dunlop to take a 10th career TT triumph.

The Yorkshireman's story is one of unwavering mental resolve and belief, a burning passion and fighting spirit to return to the pinnacle of a sport which dealt him a cruel blow when most mere mortals would have drowned in a sea of self-pity.

The 35-year-old secured his place in the TT history books by achieving an unprecedented five-timer at the 2010 event, but three months later his elation over his record-breaking exploits turned into a nightmare.

During a British Supersport race held in wet conditions, Hutchinson fell and was then struck by another rider as he lay on the track, sustaining compound fractures to his tibia and fibula in his left leg.

The initial prognosis suggested that the lower part of his leg might have to be amputated but a combination of his own powers of persuasion and the skill of the surgeons meant that course of action was ultimately discounted.

Even at this stage, the racer's mindset had set in as thoughts of an eventual return to the track came to the fore.

Sixteen operations and skin grafts later, Hutchinson signed for the Swan Yamaha team but was forced to sit out the 2011 TT after suffering continuous setbacks in his battle against his ongoing injury.

Despite being in obvious pain and discomfort, the 2003 Manx Grand Prix Newcomers winner did however manage to complete a number of exhibition laps at the annual speed festival.

The following year 'Hutchy' underwent further surgery in the off-season as part of his recuperation, before he suffered another blow when he twisted his leg awkwardly while riding an off-road bike.

Undeterred, he had an external fixator fitted, and remained focused on returning to compete in the Isle of Man races, eventually racking up three top-10 finishes despite his difficulties.

An 18-month-long recovery period ensued and in September 2013, Hutchinson went under the surgeon's knife for the 30th and final time.

An early indication that he may return to something like the level of performance he attained prior to his horror crash came in November of that year when he romped to victory at the Macau Grand Prix, held over the 3.8-mile Guia circuit.

Ian Hutchinson celebrates an emotional TT victory with runners-up Bruce Anstey and Gary Johnson
Ian Hutchinson celebrates an emotional TT victory with runners-up Bruce Anstey and Gary Johnson

The Englishman, also an accomplished short circuit rider in his pomp, was Milwaukee Yamaha-mounted for the 2014 road racing season but his TT campaign failed to yield the results or lap speeds he had hoped for, leading to a subsequent switch to the Paul Bird Motorsport Kawasaki team.

Two podium finishes at this year's North West 200 sent out a signal to his rivals that the 'Bingley Bullet' was back in the big time and a runner-up place behind Bruce Anstey in the Superbike TT provided further evidence of his breathtaking revival.

His success in Monday's Supersport event brought his tally of Isle of Man TT career wins to nine, drawing him level in the TT roll of honour with his early mentor, the late David Jefferies, before Tuesday's success moved him into double figures.

"It has been a long road back but I never stopped believing that I would win here again one day," said an emotional Hutchinson after the race.

"The bike was so good that I felt I was out there delivering pizzas.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself for the Superbike race but I was just cruising out there in that one.

"I'm so grateful to everyone who has helped me get back to where I want to be."