Michael Rutter moved into contention for the Motor Cycle News British Superbike Championship with his first ever winning double at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

The Renegade Ducati rider headed off the fierce challenges of the two riders ahead of him in the standings, Steve Hislop and Sean Emmett, to win both races on Britain's newest road course, situated inside the country's only CART-spec oval.

Rutter was quickly away in the opening 22-lap race, but had Emmett snapping at his exhausts while Hislop ran a close third. The safety car intervened on the third lap, preventing Rutter from making an escape while race marshals cleared the debris after Steve Plater had crashed heavily out of fifth position.

Emmett made a charge soon after the safety car had pulled in, but the IFC Ducati rider was unable to make it count, as Rutter made a decisive move at half distance and powered to victory by 0.421secs.

Emmett was also passed by Hislop on the final lap, as the MonsterMob Ducati rider timed his move through Turn Two to perfection to snatch both the position and points that could be vital in the final reckoning.

Defending champion John Reynolds made a great start to the second race from pole position, but soon pulled his Rizla Suzuki out with technical problems. This allowed Rutter to run clear out front, ahead of Hislop.

The Scot, however, was soon on a charge and, banishing memories of his 2001 season-ending crash at the same circuit, moved ahead on the third lap. His pace was to prove his undoing, though, and a costly blunder on the eighth lap, when he overshot Kirby Corner, left Hislop to rejoin in eighth place with much work to do. Frustrated but undaunted, he smashed the lap record in his efforts to claw back positions, but had to make do with an eventual fourth place finish.

Rutter powered in almost two seconds clear of Emmett, with Ducati privateer Dean Thomas a surprise third.

"There's all to play for in the title race," said Rutter, now third in the standings on 212.5 points, "I've just go to keep plugging away and give it a go - we lost a bit of ground at the start of the season, but now I have to get my head down and go for it."

Hislop saw his championship advantage cut by three points, and now leads 246-233 over Emmett.



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