Rutter beats Johnston to take Junior Classic TT win


Michael Rutter - Classic TT Junior Race Winner
Michael Rutter at the Gooseneck on his way to winning the Sure Junior Classic TT Race. (Credit: Dave Kneen)

Michael Rutter managed to hold off the challenge of Lee Johnston to take victory in the Sure Junior Classic TT race – the third event of the 2017 Classic TT event.

Despite a late push by Johnstone on the penultimate lap, Rutter kept his cool and put in a final lap of 104.002 to cross the line 10 seconds clear of his rival.

Jamie Coward, riding the 1980 Ted Woof Honda Craven K4, joined the pair on the podium.

After the race, a delighted Rutter said: “It’s been a hard week so I’m really happy to get the win. You’ve got to have good corner speed with these bikes.  I knew things were going well because I was getting the thumbs up around the course.  

“Once I got the lead I just had to treat the bike with respect and not over rev it. Jamie (Coward) helped on the last lap as I was getting a tow and the spectators should have seen some good wheel to wheel stuff.”

The race was reduced to three laps following the previous day’s postponement, causing plenty of debate centred around the impact that pit stops would have on the thirstier multi-cylinder bikes, compared with the ability of the twin machines to go without refilling.

In the end this situation became reality as Rutter, having run straight through, narrowly held off Johnston who pitted at the end of the second lap.

At the start of the race, Coward was the first rider to Glen Helen but Johnson, who started 13th, jumped to the top of the leader board by almost three seconds. 2015 race winner Rutter was a further three second behind.

Coward was still first on the road to Ramsey, but Johnston’s lead has grown to 8 seconds. Meanwhile, further down the order, Dean Harrison had moved up to fourth place with Dominic Herbertson, riding a Davies Motorsport Honda, now in fifth.

Rutter moved up into second place ahead of Coward by the Bungalow and at the end of the opening lap found himself almost 14 seconds behind Johnston.

Harrison’s splash and dash fuel stop at the end of the opening lap dropped him down a place by Glen Helen, with the gap to race leader Johnston, his Black Eagle Racing teammate, growing to 55 seconds.

Meanwhile Alan Oversby was enjoying a remarkable ride having stopped just after Quarterbridge to make adjustments. He moved from 20th place at Ballaugh, to be sixth by the Grandstand with an opening lap of 98.381.

On the second lap, Coward moved ahead of Rutter by Ballaugh, however the 45-year-old soon fought back to move almost four seconds ahead on the entry to Ramsey.

At the front Johnston was dominating proceedings and his second lap of 103.421, slowing into the pits gave him a 25-second lead over Rutter (102.525) with Coward holding the final podium position.

Johnston came into the pits for the critical second lap fuel stop and, with a pit stop of 39 seconds, attention switched to Glen Helen where Rutter was revealed as the new race leader – 12 seconds clear.

Johnston did cut this lead in half by the Bungalow, however Rutter’s final lap of 104.002 was enough to score the victory by 10 seconds.

Herbertson and Oversby, who moved in-front of Harrison on the final lap, completed the top five. Phil McGurk took the privateers award with an eighth placed finish