Rutter Impresses on SMT Honda Debut
By: londonbikers.com | Published 20 July 2009, 22:43 | Views: 1,653 | tags: bsb, british superbike, visk, results, smt honda, micheal rutter, robin croft, mallory park, leicestershire
Despite never having ridden the bike before practice on Friday, Michael was soon on the pace and having overcome an engine failure in the first free practice session, he placed 11th in the second. Utilising his strong circuit knowledge, he then posted a lap of 56.754s in qualifying to line up on the third row of the grid, just two hundredths of a second adrift of the top ten.
In Sunday's opening race a strong start saw him move up to 8th place and here he remained until the fourth lap when he got pushed back to 11th. However, by half race distance he was back inside the top ten and was circulating in tenth on the 23rd lap when he slid off on debris left at hairpin by a huge crash which left the first to sixth placed riders all on the floor. Michael quickly remounted and continued just before the red flag came out, which proved crucial. The result was declared but only those riders still running were included and so Michael was awarded a brilliant fourth place, the best ever result for the team.
Race 2 later in the day was held in wet, and worsening, conditions although Rutter has always been comfortable in the rain. Sure enough, after placing 8th on the opening lap, he began to move forward as the rain got heavier and, recording the second fastest lap of the race, moved into sixth place on the 13th lap. By lap 16 he had closed right in on fifth placed Richard Cooper and was just about to make a move when the red flag came out due to the track being flooded and the race was eventually declared a result although only half points were awarded as less than two-thirds race distance had been completed.
Having achieved their best ever BSB results, it was a delighted team owner Robin Croft that later said:
“I’m over the moon with how today has gone and the results have been simply superb – it’s been SMT’s most successful day in BSB and you can’t ask for much more than that. After the technical problems we had in Friday’s free practice, Michael bounced back well and his extensive circuit knowledge allowed him to concentrate on getting the bike set-up to his liking.
“Our qualifying position was good and although we had a bit of luck in the first race to get fourth, it’s about time our luck turned and rules are rules so we were delighted to take the position. Michael had suffered a problem with the gear selector though so the team had to change the engine in between races and we only just made it out on to the track in time for race 2. He proved his quality again in race 2 and I’m really proud how hard the team have worked over the entire weekend.
“Our appearance at Mallory was only made possible by the injection of financial support from Darren Maguire of HMG Construction and I’m incredibly grateful for everything he’s done for us this weekend. We’re still searching for additional support so I can’t be 100% sure if we’ll be out at Brands but I’d like to think we’ll be there with Michael on board again so we’ll work hard between now and then and keep everything crossed that we’ll be there.”
The next round of the British Superbike Championship takes place at Brands Hatch with three races taking place at the Kent venue on the weekend of August 7-9.
Photo credit: Turn One Photography
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