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TT 2017: Rutter opens with solid Superbike sixth

Michael Rutter got his 2017 Isle of Man TT races campaign underway in fine style on Sunday afternoon with sixth place on the Bathams/SMT Racing BMW in the six-lap Superbike race despite being unsettled by Guy Martin’s lap one crash at Doran’s.

The Bridgnorth rider soon sorted himself out and completed the first lap around the 37.73-mile course in ninth place but worked his way up to fifth before pushed back to sixth, albeit by just 0.135s, by local rider Dan Kneen.
The race got underway at 2pm and a solid opening lap of 128.045mph saw Rutter complete the first lap of the Mountain Course in ninth place. A lap later this had become eighth with another 128mph+ lap and with Kneen being given a 30s penalty for speeding in pitlane, and a superb pitstop by the team, he was up to fifth at half-distance.
Times were close throughout the field and Rutter was only one second clear of Australian David Johnson but he soon edged away from the Norton rider before coming under threat in the closing stages from a charging Kneen.
The duo were circulating on the road in close formation and although the sixth and final lap saw Rutter post his quickest lap of the race, at 128.796mph, it was the Manxman who was first across the line. The official margin was just 0.135s but it saw Rutter claim his 51st TT finish, the identical number to that of dad Tony.
“It was a good race for me today and after a few issues with both the handling of the bike and problems with my arms aching an awful lot, I’m delighted with sixth place. I could barely hang on to the to bike during Saturday’s practice session but some physiotherapy helped considerably and with changes to the bike, I felt a lot better coming into the race,” said Rutter.
“I struggled in the first couple of laps as the traction control light came on and it took a while to sort itself out whilst I was a bit unsettled after seeing Guy Martin’s crash. I was pleased to hear he was ok but it took me a while to get going which was why I was down a bit in the early stages. I was a bit overgeared but had a good steady ride and although it’s gutting to lose fifth place by such a margin, if Dan hadn’t had the 30s penalty he’d have been well clear. It’s a good start to the week and I’m looking forward to the Superstock race so a big thanks to the team as always.”

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