Michael Rutter celebrates 25 years of competing at the TT in 2019 and he’s achieved a lot since making his debut on a Medd Honda RC45 in 1994 but he’s looking forward to this year’s event as much as ever, particularly riding the Honda RC213V-S
The Bathams Racing rider got his first taste of the MotoGP-spec machine at last year’s Macau Grand Prix, finishing second to Peter Hickman, and given how it performed there and how Bruce Anstey has gone both at the TT and Ulster Grand Prix, Rutter can’t wait for his first laps on it around the Mountain Course.
“People ask why I keep coming back to the TT but it’s a challenge every year and the biggest challenge of them all so this year will be no exception,” Rutter told bikesportnews.com today on the Island.
Riding the RCV will be a challenge for sure but it’s one I’m looking forward to and I think it will certainly suit the course all around the place.
“All I can go on is what the bike was like at Macau but it’s a lot smaller and lighter than the BMW I normally ride and the characteristics in terms of its power delivery can only be of benefit. Bruce used Dunlops whereas I’ll be on Metzeler’s which, again, I think will be better at the TT and whilst it’s a big learning curve, I’m looking to improve on the speeds I’ve been doing recently.”
Those speeds have seen Rutter lap consistently in the 130-131mph bracket, his fastest lap of 131.709mph coming in 2017, but he’s also realistic and sensible enough to know he won’t suddenly be lapping at 135mph and challenging for the wins.
I’m 47 in a month’s time and I take my hat off to what Peter and Dean did last year but I won’t be doing 135mph plus this year. I know what my level and limit at the TT is now and what I’m happy with so that’s what I ride to – I’d say I ride the circuit at 90 per cent and won’t push any harder.
But I still want to improve and I still want to lap quicker so that will be my aim this year and if I can do that I’ll be happy. Fourth to sixth is probably realistic but if one or two of them break down, you never know, we could get on the podium.”
The Lightweight and TT Zero classes have given Rutter his best results recently with victory in the former in 2017 and third last year whilst riding the Paton. But this year, he reverts back to a KMR Kawasaki, having last ridden for Ryan Farquhar’s team in 2013.
“I was a bit disappointed with the Paton last year to be honest as it wouldn’t pull the gearing so trying to beat Michael (Dunlop) was impossible.
Ryan’s always built a good bike and Derek McGee put in a great ride to finish second last year so we’ll be competitive for sure. And with the Norton coming into the class as well, it should be a close race.
As well as riding, Rutter will again be managing the Bathams Racing outfit both on the roads and on the short circuits where Taylor Mackenzie will be aiming for the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship and he admits it’s a tough job to fulfil the role of both rider and team manager.
“Running a team is very, very difficult and until you’ve tried it, you don’t realise just how tough it is. To be fair, you can’t do both properly and something suffers. It’s a constant battle and there’s always something to think about like is the awning still up or have the sandwiches been ordered. You’re still thinking about stuff when you’re out on the bike but I still enjoy riding, whether it’s the roads or the short circuit and I’ll be aiming to do the best I possibly can again this year.”