Rutter wins Bennetts Lightweight TT in fine style for Paton
Michael Rutter took his first TT win since 2013, and his fifth in total, when he won Wednesday afternoon’s Bennetts 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 headed, 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.