Former Isle of Man TT Sidecar Race winner Ian Bell is set to make a sensational return to the Mountain Course with confirmation that he will contest the 2014 event, adding further quality to what’s already the world’s leading Sidecar race.
The Bedlington motorcycle dealer, who will be competing on Yamaha machinery, last raced at the TT in 2004, a year after he won the opening 3-lap race with passenger Neil Carpenter, but a heavy practice spill at Hillberry resulted in arm and hand injuries and led to him retiring from all competition. However, he was soon back in the driving seat, this time with son Carl in the chair and they will now contest the two races to be held next June with Carl making his debut around the 37 and ¾ mile course.
A former Southern 100 solo champion, Bell made the switch to three wheels in the mid 1990s and was an instant success at the TT where, with Craig Hallam in the chair, stunning finishes of fifth and sixth in 1995 saw him a deserved winner of the Peter Chapman Newcomers Trophy.
Two years later, Bell and Carpenter took their first podium finish with third in the second race of 1997 and they went one place better in 1999 with second behind Rob Fisher. Over the next four years, Bell and Carpenter regularly challenged the likes of Dave Molyneux and Fisher for the race wins and they finally got to stand on the top step of the podium in the first race of 2003. Although its 11 years since he last contested the TT, Bell’s best lap of 110.81mph still makes him the 16th fastest driver of all time.
Since returning to the sport in 2007, Ian and Carl have been regular front runners in the British F2 Championship taking the title in 2012 as well as becoming the Southern 100 Champions in 2009, which was Ian’s third three-wheel title around the Billown course following his successes in 1999 and 2000. The pair have also been regular winners at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough.
Speaking about his comeback to the TT, Ian said: “I’ve been giving a TT comeback some consideration for quite some time and now it feels right with my son Carl having gained enough experience in the passenger’s seat for us to go and do a decent job there. We’ll go with no expectations other than to have fun and to see how we get on.”