Michael Rutter was relieved to leave Oulton Park with some solid points after one of the toughest weekends in his time with the Rapid Solicitors–Bathams Ducati team.
The Wordsley rider was hoping to see an improved performance from the Ducati 1198 after failing to make the podium at Brands Hatch, but Rutter could only manage 10th in qualifying, with teammate Martin Jessopp 18th.
On his 350th race start, the Northern Irishman struggled to 11th in race one but managed to secure a place on the 2nd row for race two, which he converted into a top six finish.
Rutter admitted the result was better than he had expected after enduring a terrible time in practice.
“It was quite a tough weekend from the start really. Free practice and qualifying were some of the worst days in terms of not being able to find the right set-up I can remember us having as a team as we just couldn't solve some of the problems we were experiencing. The handling of the Ducati was fine, it was more of just getting the electronics right but the team worked hard and we made some improvements towards the end of the weekend.”
Jessopp also admitted that the team had lost their way at the start of the weekend but was encouraged by the performance of the 1198 in race conditions.
“It was a hard weekend as we had expected to come to Oulton Park and be on the pace but the new electronics threw our settings so we were just chasing the set up all weekend. In the first race we gambled on a soft tyre to try and put ourselves up there but I just got a terrible start and then had to try and work my way back up again. I was suffering from some chatter so I was happy to finish in the points.
Like his teammate, Jessopp opted for the harder tyre in race two but a number of incidents halted his progress. Despite those, the 25 year old from Yeovil was relieved to leave the Cheshire circuit with two points finishes.
“When the pace car came out it was like heaven for me as it gave my leg a bit of a rest; seeing the flag for that was like seeing a chequered flag at the time. I then had a moment with Chris Walker and Peter Hickman; Walker high-sided and I went to avoid him and Hickman then hit me. I was all over the grass and didn't want to roll off and loose too many places. It was pretty crazy really, but that seemed to be what the rest of the race was like! I am happy that we were able to score points and make some improvements, so now we need to turn it around for Croft.”
With two weekends of the season gone, Rutter sits in seventh place in the BSB standings, just one point outside the all important top six, while Jessopp is down in 16th, despite four points finishes.