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NW200: Effervescent Rutter equals Joey's win tally
19 May 2012
Michael Rutter equalled Ulster road racing legend Joey Dunlop's tally of 13 victories at the Relentless International North West 200 with a sensational victory on the MSS Bathams Kawasaki.
Veteran Rutter started from the second group after failing to post a fast time in Tuesday's dry qualifying session on his ZX-10R, but that didn't stop the 40-year-old Midlands rider as he set a new lap record for the class at 120.153mph on his way to victory.
Rutter is now just two wins adrift of Robert Dunlop's all-time record of 15 successes at the famous international road race after he returned to the top step at the North West for the first time since 2008.
Tyco Suzuki's Alastair Seeley was the first rider across the line on his GSX-R1000 after a thrilling battle throughout the six-lap race – which was restarted following a crash on the opening lap of the initial race.
Seeley, James Hillier and Ryan Farquhar on the KMR Kawasaki locked horns in a gripping dice around the 8.9-mile Triangle circuit on Saturday, but it was Rutter who powered through from the second wave of riders to win by 6.9 seconds on corrected time.
Seeley finished second, with Hillier taking his first podium finish at the North West in third place ahead of KMR Kawasaki's Farquhar.
Padgett's Honda pair John McGuinness and Bruce Anstey completed the top six.
Rutter said: “I was trying my hardest and I can't fault the bike, it didn't do one thing wrong. I just got my head down out there and felt like I was racing again.
“I was lucky with backmarkers because I was only held up slightly once or twice but I can't moan, can I?”
Runner-up Seeley felt slightly irked by the manner in which the race was won by Rutter.
“It's a bit disappointing because I think whoever wins on the road should win the race.
“It was a tough race and Ryan and James were dicing with each other and if I had a clear track I might have been alright,” he said.
“I just tried to ride as hard as I could and on the last half a lap I managed to break them but it wasn't enough to pull back whatever Rutter had on me."
Hillier was overjoyed with his maiden NW200 podium on the Kawasaki and picked up a few tips from his more experienced rivals as he battled with Farquhar and Seeley.
“What can I say? My bike definitely had the legs over the others out there. I struggled a bit all week on the Coast Road but following those boys brought me on today,” he said.
“Ryan was really good on the brakes at University but the more laps I did the more confident I got.
“The team has worked really hard and it's a great result.”
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