As already announced a few days ago, veteran Ian Lougher will come back racing at the Isle of Man TT this year with the charming swiss bike Suter, adding the commitment in the 1000cc classes to his manager role of his Team ILR and his young gun Joey Thompson. But there is more. The 55 years old welshman will compete in the Lightweight class with a Paton and in the TT Zero with Team Mirai’s electric bike as well.
Factory Paton Sc-Project Team will not be the only one competing with the “Italian beauties”: Lougher’s squad will have a couple of S1 as well.
Ten times TT winner, Lougher will also add the SES TT Zero race to his 2018 campaign: he will be with a small Japanese private Team , not for the first time though. In 2013 Ian rode the previous version of the bike on a last-minute call, as a replacement of his good friend Yoshinari Matsushita who lost his life during practice on the Tyco Suzuki. Lougher ended the race in sixth position between the general emotion. During a trip to Japan with his Japanese wife Asa, Ian had the chance to test the new EV bike Mirai, which is based on a Honda Moto3 chassis. The owner of Team Mirai, Yoshihiro Kishimoto, is a rider himself and competed at the Pikes Peak in the USA and also at the Cemetery Circuit Road Race (New Zealand) last year.
Together with Thompson, Ian came to Italy last week for a private test both with Paton and Suter. A special thanks to our friends at Paton for helping us out with this interview with Ian Lougher.
Ian, after your retirement from the TT in 2013 you came back in 2016 with Suter and this year you will be even busier with 1000cc classes alongside Lightweight and TT Zero. What did you miss the most about the TT?
I miss the opportunity of trying to be competitive..I guess you would say the competitive spirit still burns within me. Obviously I miss the actual experience of riding the bikes because this is why you start racing, but I don’t count myself as an adrenalin junky, the most important thing for me is trying to win and being competitive.
You’re going to compete in the TT Zero class with Team Mirai’s electric bike. How did the Japan test go and do you have any target for the race?
The chance to test and race Team Mirai’s electric bike about while I was in Japan in the winter time. We decided if it was at all possible we would try everything to test the bike there even if it was only 2 degrees above freezing. The bike ran well and will be a big improvement on the 2013 bike I last rode for them. It is very small and uses a highly modified Honda Moto 3 chassis. It is difficult to say how fast or competitive we will be around the TT circuit as when I rode it it was not fitted with the latest battery technology, but could well surprise a few people I think.
You’ve just done a test on the Suter, can you tell me anything about the major changes from 2016?
I did some testing with Suter after the TT in 2016 on the MMX500 and Eskil has ridden and developed the bike a lot since. The bike was not bad before and acceptable for the short circuits, but had a lot of niggling problems that stopped me from going any quicker on it at the Isle of Man. They have altered the riding position a lot for me so that I can get more ”comfortable” on the bike. That doesn’t include putting some more foam on the seat or something, in actual fact its the opposite as I asked them if they could get me lower in the bike. There are also alterations to the front fork internals, quick shifter, and generally cleaning up the fuelling of the engine, and having just finished my first test in Italy on the 2018 spec bike I am very pleased and excited with the outcome of the modifications. I don’t think the spectators realized in 2016 just how fresh a project it was and how brave Suter were, taking the bike to such a difficult track and in front of such a large audience, but that sums up Eskil and the whole Suter ”family”, they are pioneers and I enjoyed the whole experience of working with them immensely. I was disappointed in my result of course, it was such a difficult race for me, but pleased I could get a finish for the team. It will be different this time…… watch this space!!
For the Lightweight Races you will have 2 Patons in your Team. Which do you think is Paton’s strong point compared to the ER6N?
Yes we have done a deal with Paton and our sponsor Mark Coverdale to run 2 Paton’s in the Lightweight race, one for our up and coming rider Joey Thompson ”Joey Yorkshire”, and I will ride the other one. I would say the biggest advantage the Paton has is its light weight and agility compared to the ER6N, it handles really well. Joey was flying in the recent test on his Paton.
Which is the best advice you can give to your young gun Joey Thompson?
I always say to Joey go out and enjoy yourself, then the results will come, as a happy rider is a fast rider. This works off the track too, in my team we are always known for having some fun, but when its time to get serious we know when that time has come too. I always say concentration is the key, and ”always expect the unexpected” then your never surprised.