Michael Rutter proves he still has the Will to Win in Lightweight
Michael Rutter took his fifth win at the Isle of Man TT Races on Wednesday when he led the Lightweight TT race from start to finish and with fourth place in the earlier Superstock race it completed an excellent day of racing around the 37.73-mile Mountain Course.
Riding the SC-Project Reparto Corse Paton, the 45-year old had high hopes for the Lightweight race, having finished third on the bike in the 2015 race. On lap one he took the lead from the outset, leading by a second through Glen Helen. With an opening lap of 118.955mph, he held a 4.4 seconds advantage over team-mate Stefano Bonetti going into lap two.
At Ramsey Rutter had increased his lead to 3.4s ahead of team mate Bonetti whom was just holding on to second place 2.1s ahead of Jessop with Linton closing up on Jessop with Hickman in close contention.
Quickening his pace second time around to 120.362mph, which proved to be the fastest lap of the race, Rutter extended his lead at half race distance to 10.5 seconds with Martin Jessopp now in second. However, the Yeovil rider Jessopp had a quicker fuel stop and by Glen Helen on lap three the difference between the two riders was down to just 2.8 seconds.
With Jessopp having started ten seconds in front of him, Rutter could see the gap had reduced but he dug deep and going into the final lap, he’d increased his lead once more to 7.9 seconds. He caught Jessopp on the road and with both riders completing the fourth and final lap in excess of 120mph; Rutter came home for his first TT win since 2013, and fifth in total. His eventual winning margin was 8.8 seconds.
Speaking t the after races press conference a thrilled Michael Rutter said
“It’s brilliant to win another TT race, especially as I’m getting on a bit now! I hadn’t shown my hand too much in practice but felt confident that the Paton could give me a good shot at the podium and although the Lightweight bikes aren’t the fastest out there, you have to ride them so hard round the corners,”
“I got my head down on the first lap but lost a bit of time at the pit stops so I had to dig deep to pull Martin back and once I’d caught him, we had a lot of fun. You start hearing things and worrying the bike might not last when you get towards the end but it was faultless. I might not understand a word of Italian but the team did a great job.”
Words & images by Glynne Lewis