Superbike contest off to thrilling start

MORE than 42,000 spectators packed in to Brands Hatch on Bank Holiday Monday as the Kent circuit played host to a thrilling start to the British Superbike season, with some of the best racers from our region coming away with mixed fortunes.

MORE than 42,000 spectators packed in to Brands Hatch on Bank Holiday Monday as the Kent circuit played host to a thrilling start to the British Superbike season, with some of the best racers from our region coming away with mixed fortunes.

Michael Rutter from Essex-based race team Isilon MSS Discovery Kawasaki qualified 15th on the grid for the Bennetts British Superbike Championship races and race one saw the 33-year-old snatch 12th at the first turn and 10th at the chequered flag.

Race two saw more trademark Rutter consistency, running in ninth place before the pace car was deployed. Then, with two laps to go, Rutter moved his ZX10R ahead of Chris Walker for seventh place when the race was red-flagged, handing Rutter the seventh-place finish.

The team's Supersport rider, Stuart Easton, qualified eighth for the Maxxis British Supersport Championship race, where he got away from the start-line and exited Paddock Hill Bend in ninth place.


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Leaders Dennis Hobbs and Michael Laverty crashed and the red flag was brought out, with Easton taking the opportunity to make some quick front-end suspension changes for the restart.

The 23-year-old then climbed to seventh place, until Billy McConnell crashed to bring out a second red flag, as a result of which Easton was promoted to sixth. Then, following the technical exclusion of rider Martin Jessopp, Easton was promoted to fifth place.

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Ipswich-based Kieran Murphy came away with a good solid result in his first competitive outing for Goldstar Suzuki in the British Superstock Championship.

The 27-year-old qualified ninth on the grid and was 11th after the first turn, hanging on to the leading group. He then gained two more places when Adam Jenkinson crashed on lap 12 and he passed John Laverty.

By this time the rear shock on Murphy's Suzuki had begun to overheat and went soft.

“We've made some good head-way with the new Kais Ohlins shock during testing,” said Murphy, “but we still need to continue development to increase longevity and consistency in its performance.”

Woodbridge-based Martin Buckles had a torrid start to the British Superstock Championship aboard the X-Bikes MV Agusta.

The 26-year-old qualified down in 23rd place after a clutch failure and the race didn't go much better. He was black-flagged during lap two when his machine began to puff blue smoke from the exhaust and he pulled over in the wooded section of the circuit.“It was a disappointing start but this has only spurred us on to double our efforts for round two - when we'll have the 2007 spec bikes race-ready,” he said.

Round two of the British Superbike Championship - featuring the Supersport and Superstock championships - will take place this Sunday at Thruxton in Hampshire.

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