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Rutter hits BSB double top at Croft

Rutter hits BSB double top at Croft

Rutter hits BSB double top at Croft

Michael Rutter, with his first winning double of the season, moved firmly back into contention to take the THINK! British Superbike crown for the first time.

The HM Plant Honda rider was under pressure to get his campaign back on track in the tenth round at Croft and he responded superbly while the series leader, John Reynolds, was always struggling with the settings of his Rizla Suzuki at the North Yorkshire circuit he described as "a bit bumpy, but fast and exciting."

Rutter had underlined his speed during qualifying, coming within 0.046 seconds of Yukio Kagayama's remarkable record breaking pace in the scrap for pole start, and while the Japanese rider made good use of that in the opening race, Rutter was left playing catch-up.

"I made the worst start possible - I missed the lights and everyone else around me had gone," he explained. Kagayama, riding the Rizla Suzuki, was heading the pack as Rutter riding aggressively carved his way through, to move into second place with six laps to go.

The Japanese rider looked to have the race under control, but then on the final lap he made a rare mistake, missing a gear, slowing momentarily and Rutter was through. "I couldn't believe it when he made an error, but I'll take it. Everything worked out there and it all came right in the end."

Scott Smart took third aboard the Hawk Kawasaki, ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari and Reynolds, a far from pleased fifth.

Kagayama had more misfortune to come, highsiding spectacularly out of the second race, in the early stages, without injury, while a fierce front-running duel was developing between Smart and Rutter.

The lead changed a couple of times before Rutter made the decisive move with four laps to go: "Scott made me work hard. I was faster than him in some places, he beat me in others. It was case of nailing him at the right time, getting ahead and then making it stick."

Rutter had reduced from 73 to 50 points his deficit on Reynolds but he refused to talk about the championship: "my focus is winning races, not worrying about that."

Reynolds, who took third place in that race was relieved to have scored good points. "I am really happy to have finished in sight of Michael. We worked hard on the settings but I was asking for something we didn't have. I just wanted to stay on the bike and get the points."

THINK! British Superbike Championship, leading standings after round ten:

1:John Reynolds 362
2: Michael Rutter 312
3: Scott Smart 276
4: Yukio Kagayama 249
5: Sean Emmett 240
6: Ryuich Kiyonari 150
7: Dean Thomas 132
8: James Haydon 132
9: Tommy Hill 105
10: Gary Mason 95

MotoGP, 2004

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