Mugen has announced that racing veteran Michael Rutter will race its exquisite Shinden Nana electric motorcycle in this year’s Isle of Man TT Zero race, following the withdrawal of Bruce Anstey and John McGuinness through illness and injury.
The Japanese team, winners of the one lap electric bike race for the past four seasons, had planned to enter a three rider team for TT2018 with new Honda factory rider Lee Johnston joining the veterans on the multi million dollar machine, but with Anstey fighting cancer and McGuinness not recovered from the broken leg he suffered during last year’s NorthWest 200, they have drafted in the experienced 46-year-old to ride the Nana.
Rutter is no stranger to racing electric bikes, having won the three TT Zeros between 2011 and 2013 on the American made MotoCzysz. Indeed, Rutter is the only rider to have defeated the all-conquering Mugens around the 37.73 mile course, having beaten McGuinness to top spot in 2012 and 2013. Despite his advancing years, the popular West Midlander remains highly competitive around the Island course and won last year’s Lightweight TT on a Paton.
The electric bike race has seen competitors raise the bar from a 96.78mph lap in the inaugural event in 2010 to 119.279mph from McGuinness in 2015. Despite seemingly having little competition in this year’s race, Mugen has stated that it aims to top the 120mph average in TT2018, with new rider Johnston recently testing the bike in Japan.
“Although Team Mugen recently announced that the team would enter three Shinden bikes in the 2018 Isle of Man TT Zero challenge; due to unforeseen circumstances affecting two of the three nominated riders Mugen has been forced to revise the entry,” the team said in a statement.
“The winner of the previous two TT Zero races, Bruce Anstey, has been forced to withdraw from all racing during 2018 while he undergoes medical treatment for a serious illness. John McGuinness has been an ever-present member of Team Mugen since the outset of the Shinden programme in 2012; winning the TT Zero event twice for Mugen along the way, and he was due to rejoin the team for 2018 after being forced to sit out the 2017 event as a result of an injury sustained prior to last year’s TT. However, despite 14 months of recuperation, a recent re-fracture of the same injury has ruled him out of competing for Team Mugen this year. Mugen wishes and prays for the swift and complete recovery of these extremely valued team members who have each contributed to the four victories already achieved by Team Mugen in the TT Zero Challenge, and all staff members hope to see them both back in competitive action in the near future.”
Practice for the 2018 Isle of Man TT races commences on May 26, with the TT Zero race scheduled for Wednesday June 6.