Michael Rutter secured his first podium of 2011 as Rapid Solicitors Bathams–Ducati enjoyed their most competitive weekend of the season so far.
The 39-year-old took the early lead in race one after a lightning start from the inside of the front row and then withstood a late challenge from Shane 'Shakey' Byrne to take second place.
Rutter then looked on course for a second consecutive podium in race two and was challenging Peter Hickman for second before it all went horribly wrong at Village corner. Rutter lost control of the 1198R and slid across the grass into retirement.
Despite a disappointing end to the day, Rutter enjoyed the day and particularly enjoyed his last lap duel with Byrne in race one.
“It’s great for me and the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati team to be back on the podium. I had to give some respect to the youngsters; Shakey put up a good fight in that first one! I was a bit stupid at the beginning of the race as it wasn’t as wet as I expected so thought that anyone on intermediates would have the edge. I didn’t push too hard as I didn’t want to do anything stupid so I knocked it off a bit and was trying to stay smooth. I then tried to get a rhythm going and was back up there; that last lap was pretty exciting as I had Shakey then he did me and I just knew I would have to give it a go at the Chicane and it paid off.”
“The second race was obviously not as good as race one. I was up there again which is good but the back just came round on me and I lost the front and slid for miles! I feel ok but I was just disappointed not to have ended the day as well as we had started.”
Teammate Martin Jessopp also had his best weekend of the season so far. After starting 11th, the Yeovil rider kept his head in the tricky conditions to finish in the points in 12th. In race two, he went even better and outraced the two Motorpoint Yamahas to finish tenth.
Despite a much improved display at Thruxton, Jessopp was hoping for better but still feels there are positives to take to the next round at Knockhill.
“We scored some good points but it wasn't the end to the weekend we had hoped for. We had been inside the top ten in free practice and then in qualifying I took my best result of the season in twelfth. I knew that the pace would be there in the race – and then it rained and we had to change tactics. I would have liked to have been further up the order, as racers are never satisfied with their results and always want more, but it was the best point's score of the season so still good for the championship.”
Team Owner Phil Jessopp was especially pleased and feels the team are finally extracting the full potential out of the 1198R.
“It has been a better weekend for the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati team and we were happy to have Michael back on the podium in the first race and really showing what both him and the team are capable of after a couple of challenging rounds. Martin had his best points’ scoring round of the season so the team’s home round has been the best of the year so far.”