Michael Rutter beat Lee Johnston in a head to head of former race winners in today’s Sure Junior Classic TT Race, the third race in the 2017 Isle of Man Classic TT presented by Bennetts.
After the race Rutter revealed how pleased he was after a tough week:
“It’s been a hard week so I’m really happy to get the win. You’ve got to have good corner speed with these bikes. I knew things were going well because I was getting the thumbs up around the course. Once I got the lead I just had to treat the bike with respect and not over rev it. Jamie (Coward) helped on the last lap as I was getting a tow and the spectators should have seen some good wheel to wheel stuff.”
After a short delay to get marshals in position around the Mountain Course, the race got underway at 12.05pm. With the race reduced to three laps following yesterday’s postponement, the pre-race debate centred around the impact that pit stops would have on the thirstier multi-cylinder bikes compared with the ability of the twin machines to go without refilling and so it proved with Rutter, having run straight through, narrowly holding off Johnston who pitted at the end of the second lap. Gloucestershire based Dan Cooper, riding the CSC Racing Honda, was first away followed by fastest qualifier Jamie Coward, riding the 1980 Ted Woof Honda Craven K4 with a twenty second gap to fourth placed starter Michael Rutter on the Ripley Land Racing 1972 Honda K4 Drixton following Michael Dunlop’s withdrawl.
Jamie Coward was first to Glen Helen but Lee Johnson, from a starting place of thirteenth on the grid, jumped to the top of the leader board almost three seconds ahead of Coward with Rutter, the 2015 race winner three seconds behind the race leader in third. Hefyn Owen, riding an Owen Racing Honda and Dean Harrison, Johnston’s Black Eagle Racing teammate, completed the top five. Coward was still first on the road to Ramsey but Johnston’s lead has grown to 8 seconds with Michael Rutter holding third a further second back. Dean Harrison moved up to fourth place with Dominic Herbertson, riding a Davies Motorsport Honda, now in fifth. Michael Rutter moved up into second place ahead of Coward by the Bungalow and at the end of the opening lap Rutter trailed Lee Johnston, the 2014 Junior Classic TT Race winner, by almost fourteen seconds with Coward (101.125mph) who was first through the Grandstand holding third and Harrison (100.953) and Herbertson (100.180) completing the top five.
Dean Harrison splash and dash fuel stop at the end of the opening lap dropped him a place by Glen Helen with the gap to race leader Johnston, his Black Eagle Racing teammate, growing to fifty-five seconds. Meanwhile Alan Oversby was enjoying a remarkable ride having stopped just after Quarterbridge to make adjustments. He moved from 20th place at Ballaugh to be sixth by the Grandstand with an opening lap of 98.381. Coward moved ahead of Rutter by Ballaugh on the second lap but Rutter came back at him to move almost four seconds ahead of Coward on the run in to Ramsey. However Johnston was dominating proceedings and his second lap of 103.421, slowing into the pits gave him a twenty-five second lead over Rutter (102.525) with Coward holding the final podium position after his second lap of 101.966.
All eyes were on Lee Johnston at the Grandstand as he came into the pits for the critical second lap fuel stop and, with a pit stop of thirty-nine seconds, attention switched to Glen Helen where Rutter was revealed as the new race leader twelve seconds ahead of Johnston. Coward was a second and a half back in third with Herbertson and Harrison fourth and fifth respectively. Although Johnston had cut Rutter’s lead to six seconds by the Bungalow, Rutter last lap of 104.002 gave him the race win in a time of 1:06.09.267/ 102.660mph by ten seconds from Johnston (1:06:19.519/ 102.395) with Coward third in 1:06:33.428/ 102.039). Herbertson (1:07.07.356/ 101.170) and Oversby 107.24.368/ 100.753) – who moved infront of Harrison (1:07.28.658/ 100.647) on the last lap to complete the top five. Phil McGurk took the privateers award with an eighth placed finish in 1:08.32.911/ 99.074.