Lightweight TT

Road racing – Rutter wins Lightweight TT

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Michael Rutter took his first TT win since 2013, and his fifth in total, when he won the Lightweight TT race at the 2017 Isle of Man TT races, giving the Italian Paton manufacturer their first ever win around the Mountain Course. He set a new lap record of 118.645mph (1:16.19.324), beating Ivan Lintin’s time for the four lap race from last year.

Rutter took the lead from the beginning of the race and was never caught, eventually beating Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles Kawasaki) by 8.8s with Peter Hickman taking yet another TT podium this week in third, this time on the KMR/IEG Kawasaki.

Rutter led through Glen Helen on the opening lap from his Paton team-mate Stefano Bonetti, the gap just one second with Jessopp only fourth tenths of a second further back in third. 2015 and 2016 race winner Ivan Lintin slotted into third ahead of Daniel Cooper and Hickman.

Passing through Ramsey first time around, Rutter had increased his lead slightly to 3.4s with Bonetti still holding onto second some 2.1s clear of Jessopp. Lintin was a further 2.9s back in fourth as Hickman moved up to fifth ahead of Cooper.

An opening lap of 118.955mph gave Rutter a 4.4s lead over Bonetti but Jessopp was now only one second behind as he looked to better this third place from last year’s race. Lintin was still in fourth but now 4.6s behind Jessopp as Hickman and Cooper maintained fifth and sixth.

Rutter added a further half second to his lead on the run to Glen Helen but it was Jessopp who was now up to second as Bonetti battled on track with Hickman and James Cowton. There was also a change in sixth as Michael Dunlop moved ahead of Cooper.

Coming into the pits for the fuel stop, a superb second lap of 120.362mph enabled Rutter to pull further clear, his lead now 10.5s from Jessopp as Bonetti’s good run ended with retirement at the Creg ny Baa. Lintin had a small advantage over Hickman and Cooper who was now up to fifth as Dunlop dropped back to seventh.

However, a helmet change by Lintin lost him valuable time whilst Rutter also lost time at the pits and, sure enough, through Glen Helen on lap three his lead over Jessopp was down to 2.8s. Hickman moved up to third at Lintin’s expense with Cooper in fifth and Cowton up to sixth.

Rutter immediately responded and almost doubled his lead on the high speed run to Ballaugh, his advantage going back up to 5.4s. Meanwhile, Hickman was now looking secure in third with a gap of over 21 seconds to Lintin but Gary Johnson was out of luck with his second retirement of the day.

At the head of the field, Rutter was pressing on ahead and going into the fourth and final lap, he’d increased his lead to 7.9s and was only a few machines length behind Jessopp on the road. Hickman was over 25 seconds behind in third with similar gaps between Lintin, Cooper and Dunlop but newcomer Adam McLean was forced to retire from an excellent ninth at Ballaugh.

Rutter had no such problems and, circulating with Jessopp on the road, he took the win by 8.8s with the latter securing his second TT podium and best ever result. Hickman’s stunning week continued with his fourth podium from four starts, giving team owner and former race winner Ryan Farquhar plenty to celebrate.

Lintin was unable to make it three in a row and had to settle for fourth as Cooper got his best TT result in fifth with Brookes doing the same in sixth. Riding the second KMR/IEG Kawasaki, he relegated Dunlop to seventh on the final lap with Cowton, Michael Sweeney and last year’s Manx Grand Prix winner Jamie Hodson rounding out the top ten.

Road racing – Hickman and Webb join KMR Kawasaki squad

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KMR Kawasaki will have a four-man team for this year’s Lightweight TT race with Peter Hickman and Danny Webb joining Lee Johnston and Hudson Kennaugh in Ryan Farquhar’s team.

The quartet will all ride identically-prepared ER6 650cc Kawasaki’s in the four-lap race as triple TT winner Farquhar goes all out to claim victory in the race he won himself back in 2012.

Hickman will be making his debut in the race having withdrawn last year after being scheduled to ride the John Burrows BEE Cookstown Kawasaki and will be among the pre-race favourites, as will team-mate Johnston. He previously rode for Farquhar’s team at the 2015 Isle of Man TT and, after lapping at close to 119mph, was lying in a podium position before retiring on the final lap.

Webb will be making his fourth successive appearance in the race – all of which have been for Farquhar’s team. His debut in 2014 saw him finish in a credible 14th place and he went quicker still in 2015, lapping in excess of 115mph on his way to claiming an excellent tenth place and his first silver replica.

South African Kennaugh competed in the Lightweight TT race in 2015 where he was running on the edge of the top ten before a spill at Braddan Bridge in the closing stages ended his race.

With Johnston and Hickman expected to be challenging for the race win and Webb and Kennaugh strong candidates for top ten positions, it promises to be an exciting race for KMR Kawasaki and while Farquhar is naturally disappointed not to be riding himself, he’s excited about his team’s prospects.

 

Road racing – Norton to race Lightweight TT

Not only will Norton compete in the Superbike and Senior TT Races at the Isle of Man TT Races, they will also be taking on the Lightweight class in partnership with The British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy with MCN’s senior Road Tester and TT racer Adam ‘Chad’ Child piloting the bike.

Students on the BMMA’s apprenticeship programme at Norton HQ at Donington Park will primarily run the project. It is a unique opportunity for the students who will not only build the exciting new bike, but a lucky select few will travel with the Norton team to the TT to work on the lightweight bike alongside the factory team.

The project will use a proven Kawasaki ER-6 motor, in line with the majority of the field. Ohlins has already produced some bespoke suspension for the project and the BMMA race team are expected to start testing in the next few weeks.

Chad, who will be competing in his fourth TT, and has competed in every Lightweight race at the TT since the new class was introduced in 2012, is looking forward to the new project. He said: “It’s going to be really interesting to work with the students, together we have steep learning curve; the TT is the ultimate test. They have bags of enthusiasm and it’s going to an exciting few weeks; it will be great to see young faces in the paddock actually working on the race bike.”

Norton boss Stuart Garner said: “It’s a great opportunity for the students who will work alongside the Norton race team. Chad will be on hand giving feedback developing the bike and the team, he’s obviously got extensive bike testing experience and knowledge of Lightweight class.”

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