Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

North West 200: Michael Rutter’s form could see veteran reliving past glories

By Paul Lindsay

Published 12/05/2016

Lucky for some: Michael Rutter has won 13 times on the NW200 circuit and would love to add at least one more victory to that tally
Lucky for some: Michael Rutter has won 13 times on the NW200 circuit and would love to add at least one more victory to that tally
Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster wins the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster is congratulated by third placed Hollie Hanson and runner up Shannon Henry after the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -10/05/2016. Picture by Dessie Loughery International North West 200 Supertwin Race Jeremy McWilliams (SGS/IEG/KMR Kawasaki )
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 Jill McWilliams along with her husband Jeremy McWilliams who is racing. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Michael Rutter (Bathams/SMT Racing BMW ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Michael Dunlop (BMW ) during practice race for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Michael Dunlop is all smiles after setting fattest Superbike time during the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200. Picture by Stephen Davison
William Dunlop on the grid during the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200 today. Picture by Stephen Davison
Ben Wilson ready for the off at the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200 grid. Picture by Stephen Davison
Hector Neill looks over the grid. Vauxhall International North West 200.
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Vauxhall International North West 200. Philip Neill
Ian Hutchinson makes his way through the paddock.
Vauxhall International North West 200. Ryan Farquhar.
North West 200 2016 Bruce Anstey
Vauxhall International North West 200. Ian Hutchinson makes his way to the grid.
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. William Dunlop. Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. William Dunlop. Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
North West 200 2016 Practice has begun at the Vauxhall International North West 200 around the high speed Triangle circuit. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vauxhall International North West 200. Michael Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry finance of Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016
North West 200 2016 Practice has begun at the Vauxhall International North West 200 around the high speed Triangle circuit. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Conor Cummins Honda Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki Kawasaki )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry along with finance Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki Kawasaki )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Jamie Hamilton. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction/Burdens Triumph ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Lee Johnston. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction/Burdens Triumph ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. John McGuinness. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 James Hillier (Quattro Plant Muc-off Kawasaki Kawasaki ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. John McGuinness Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Ian Hutchinson (Came BPT Yamaha Yamaha )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 John McGuinness (Jackson Honda Racing Honda ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200. Malachi Mitchell-Thomas. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry along with finance Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 William Dunlop (CD/IC Racing/Caffrey International Yamaha ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. John McGuinness. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

He used to be the main headline grabber on the North Coast and this year he is happy to slip in under the radar — well that was until Tuesday afternoon when he topped the Superstock session with a new unofficial lap record at 121.847mph.

If you haven’t already guessed it, the man in question is 13-time Vauxhall International North West 200 winner Michael Rutter.

The 44-year-old was undisputed King of the Triangle for many years, with nine of his 13 victories coming in the Superbike class.

Now in his 25th year of British championship competition, the Batham’s BMW rider is well capable of taking career victory number 14 at the North West this weekend, which would nudge him above Joey Dunlop (13) and just one behind Alastair Seeley and Robert Dunlop on 15.

His first victory was back in 1997 and he was also the first rider to break the magical 200mph barrier around the 8.9-mile circuit. This week all the talk is of Seeley taking a standalone 16th win, but a slip up for the Ulsterman and a top weekend for the Midlander could possibly even see him draw level with Seeley and Dunlop.

Granted he hasn’t won a NW200 race since 2012, but on top class German machinery, he’s more than capable of getting back to winning ways.

“I think it will be very difficult, but then again it will probably all come down to the last lap as it always does at Juniper Hill,” said Rutter pre-event.

Affectionately known as The Blade, there’s every chance Rutter could add a BMW win to his NW200 CV, which already includes top steps with Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and Kawasaki.

He also posted the fifth fastest time in the Superbike class during Tuesday’s session, which again makes him a worthy contender for honours.

All the hype has been about a 16th win for the Wee Wizard, but what about Rutter joining Dunlop on Seeley on 15 at the culmination of this year’s event — now that really would be a headline grabber.

Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster wins the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster wins the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Miss North West 200 Chloe McMaster is congratulated by third placed Hollie Hanson and runner up Shannon Henry after the competition in the paddock on Tuesday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Vauxhall International North West 200 Jill McWilliams along with her husband Jeremy McWilliams who is racing. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Michael Rutter (Bathams/SMT Racing BMW ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Michael Dunlop (BMW ) during practice race for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Michael Dunlop is all smiles after setting fattest Superbike time during the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200. Picture by Stephen Davison
William Dunlop on the grid during the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200 today. Picture by Stephen Davison
Ben Wilson ready for the off at the opening practice session for the Vauxhall International North West 200 grid. Picture by Stephen Davison
Hector Neill looks over the grid. Vauxhall International North West 200.
Chloe McMaster named Miss North West 200 for 2016.
Vauxhall International North West 200. Philip Neill
Ian Hutchinson makes his way through the paddock.
Vauxhall International North West 200. Ryan Farquhar.
North West 200 2016 Bruce Anstey
Vauxhall International North West 200. Ian Hutchinson makes his way to the grid.
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. William Dunlop. Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. William Dunlop. Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016 Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
North West 200 2016 Practice has begun at the Vauxhall International North West 200 around the high speed Triangle circuit. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vauxhall International North West 200. Michael Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry finance of Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th May 2016
North West 200 2016 Practice has begun at the Vauxhall International North West 200 around the high speed Triangle circuit. Picture by Brian Little/Presseye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Conor Cummins Honda Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki Kawasaki )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Danni Henry along with finance Alastair Seeley. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Alastair Seeley (Gearlink Kawasaki Kawasaki )during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Jamie Hamilton. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction/Burdens Triumph ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Lee Johnston. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Pacemaker Belfast 10-5-16 Vauxhall International North West 200 - 2016 Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction/Burdens Triumph ) during today's practices for the Vauxhall International North West 200, in Coleraine. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. John McGuinness. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Vauxhall International North West 200 Tuesday practice gets under way. Jeremy McWilliams and Michael Rutter. Photographer - ©Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Online Editors

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph