Belfast Telegraph

Rutter seals deal to ride like thunder

By Jim Gracey

North West 200 folk hero Michael Rutter will travel in style as he bids to build on his 12 north coast wins.

Road racing life is beginning again for crowd favourite Rutter, 40 last month, whose Relentless North West plans have been revived by late backing from new race sponsor Vauxhall.

The deal means the West Midlands rider can not only compete in the ground-breaking first Thursday night racing on a KMR Kawasaki 650 Supertwin.

He'll also have use of a Vauxhall VXR8 GTS 6.3 litre Thunder saloon, worth over £50,000, throughout May 12-19 Race Week.

And the sponsors can rest easy that their supercar is in safe hands — no-one ever steals Rutter's thunder at the North West.

The first rider to break the 200mph barrier on his Superbike is one the first the fans look for scorching down the course and he is also on the grid for Saturday's Superstock and Superbike races.

But he admitted: "It was touch and go for my involvement this year. I especially wanted to do the Thursday night racing as its a brilliant idea and adds a new dimension to the North West for the riders and the fans.

"But you can't do it without sponsors and thankfully now I've got the backing we can get cracking on the bike.

"I'm really excited about the Thursday night races and I'm delighted that I am going in both.

"There are some fantastic riders involved, including Jeremy McWilliams making his North West debut in the Thursday Supertwins.

"Jeremy's been talking like a rookie about his chances, but who is he trying to kid with his experience of MotoGP racing down the years?

"He'll be going flat out to win like the rest of us. The line-up should make for some superb racing. We're all so evenly matched these days, men and machines — no-one is going to race clear of the rest — and with no clear advantages, podium places are going to be hard to secure. It all adds up to a treat for the fans."

The new Vauxhall backed Supertwin class has attracted over 40 entries, including Rutter, high profile veteran McWilliams, Hampshire-based James Hillier, Ryan Farquhar, Olie Lindsdell, Ian Lougher, Michael Dunlop and Simon Andrews. Also signed up are Waterford’s Brian McCormick, Paul Shoesmith, Jamie Hamilton and William Davison.

Thursday evening’s LiveWire AV Superstock Race and Saturday’s CP Hire Superstock Race, from which an overall winner will emerge, has generated over 60 entries headed up by Hector Neill's Tyco Suzuki TAS stars Guy Martin and Alastair Seeley, John McGuinness, Stephen Thompson, John Burrows and both Dunlop brothers Michael and William.

Over 100 riders from 18 countries throughout the world have entered the seven races attracting a total of over 300 entries.

There's a major attraction off-course as well with World Superbike legend Carl Fogarty making a North West return.

Fogarty who clinched two Superbike wins at the 1993 North West will be mingling with fans in the Paddock area on Friday, May 18, as well as riding official demo laps round the 8.9 mile circuit on Saturday Race Day.

The eight times Superbike, F1 and Endurance champion is also taking part in a special Vauxhall hosted question and answer session on Friday from 3.00- 4.00pm at the Vauxhall stand located opposite the Start Grid on the Coast Road.

Michael Rutter will be on the stand from 10.30-11.30am and John McGuinness from 2.00-3.00pm with Steve Plater attending on the Wednesday from 10.30am-11.30am.

Belfast Telegraph


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