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New sponsor secures Rutter, Ducati entry
2 February 2011
Michael Rutter, Martin Jessopp and Ducati will return to the British Superbike grid in 2011 after securing a major title sponsorship deal with Rapid Solicitors.
The team, which competed as Ridersmotorcycles.com Ducati last season, proved one of the revelations of 2010, with Rutter proving particularly competitive aboard the 1198 on the way to the top six shootout.
Winning two races – at Knockhill and Silverstone -, Rutter ended the season in fifth position overall, the 38-year-old's best result since 2005. Jessopp, meanwhile, also showed encouraging form on the bike, taking a pole position at Thruxton, only for a leg-breaking accident at Mallory Park to curtail his season early.
Nonetheless, both riders are back with the same manufacturer in 2011, though it will be heavily-backed by Rapid Solicitors this time.
The company, a nationwide accident compensation company, will lend support to the team, the new Ducati 848 Challenge and the BSB championship itself in what will be a substantial deal across the series.
It's an exciting boost for the team, which will also see the bikes upgraded to include a full fly-by-wire throttle system and improved specification.
“Stuart Higgs, the BSB Series Director, has been instrumental in helping us conclude this deal, which is not only a benefit to us as a racing team, but also benefits the entire championship,” said team manager Phil Jessopp.
“[The fly-by-wire throttle system] means we can break the track up into 16 sectors and dial in the engine braking and traction control strategies to suit each specific sector. We've also now got launch control which we never previously had.
“Ducati will be up-specing the 2011 bikes all year,” he added. “There's new engine internals – pistons and cams - coming to reduce the torque and increase horsepower.
“The current engine is great for the roads but we do need to take drive out of the engine for BSB tracks to make the power more useable. You can do it with electronics but then all you are doing is slowing he bike. It's better if you can achieve the same result by moving the power around.”
Rutter was also thrilled with the deal, though he stresses it will still be a privately-funded and run operation.
“People are saying we've now got a factory Ducati but it's not a factory bike in the true sense of the word, we haven't got factory suspension or 10 more people in the garage looking busy! Martin and I have a chance of winning the title, but I won't worry unless we get to the first race and we're at the back of the grid!”
The deal with Rapid Solicitors will also see the team enter Superstock series with Michael Booth, while team will prepare bikes for the Isle of Man TT, North West 200 and Macau GP.
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