BSB » 29 June 2008
Rutter rises through the damp.
Michael Rutter has scored his first British Superbike victory in more than three years after showing outstanding tenacity in tricky conditions at Mallory Park.
A race full of incident and with a regularly changing leaderboard, the only constant proved to be Rutter's ability to master the damp conditions whilst being one of only a handful of riders to opt for slick tyres.
The race was started in slightly controversial circumstances when rain came back to make strategy something of a lottery. An earlier shower had already drenched the circuit once in the day, but while the Supersport race produced a dry line, many opted to play safe with wet weather rubber on at least one of their wheels. The return of the rain though prompted a protest amongst some riders, including Leon Haslam and Shane Byrne, who felt the start should have been delayed.
Nonetheless, the race got underway as normal, albeit with a myriad of different tyre strategies ranging from all-slick rubber for Rutter and Cal Crutchlow, half and half for Byrne and Tom Sykes, and wets all round for Haslam and Billy McConnell.
Treading the first few bends very gingerly, Sykes and Byrne led initially but were quickly swallowed up by Laverty and Rutter, the latter defying his slick rubber to negotiate the first lap confidently.
Indeed, while Rutter's slick-shod rivals tumbled down the order, he remained a comfortable second place behind Laverty, who was romping away up the road in the vain hope of putting enough air between himself and the chasing pack before the circuit began to dry out.
However, Laverty wouldn't be given the chance to find out when he lost the front-end of his Relentless Suzuki at Charlie's chicane for the second time today on lap four. His fall left Rutter in a comfortable lead, the North West Ducati rider using his experience to maintain a good speed in difficult, but improving, conditions.
The order behind was changing constantly though as lesser fancied riders that gambled on a full wet weather set-up surged to the front of the field. Led by Leon Haslam, Billy McConnell, Simon Andrews, Aaron Zanotti and Guy Mason all occupied high top ten positions in the early stages.
Andrews, on the Lloyds Jentin Suzuki was particularly enjoying himself, getting as high as second place when his dice with Haslam saw him make a move up the inside of Charlie's that forced the HM Plant Honda rider to take to the escape road.
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