Michael Rutter clinched his first Classic TT win this week after a furious race in the Junior Classic TT race.
But he didn’t have it all his own way. The West Midlands rider duelled with Ulsterman Lee Johnston throughout the entire race and even Yorkshireman Jamie Coward took the lead at one point.
In the end, Coward finished third on his Ted Woof Craven Honda K4 in what was one of the most dynamic races of the weekend.
Phil McGurk from Rochdale finished eighth, winning the privateer’s race on a machine which was entirely built and prepared by himself.
Johnston - on the Black Eagle Racing MV Agusta 350 - was leading for almost three laps, with Rutter and Coward stealing the lead only for fleeting moments. And with a lead of 25 seconds at the start of lap three, it looked as if Johnston was certain to be the one spraying the champagne on the podium.
But then, at Glen Helen on lap three, Rutter dug deep into his reserves and took the lead, gappin Johnston by over 12 seconds, who was suffering pains from an injury to his right hand.
Rutter - riding the Ripleyland Racing Honda 350 - said: “It was hard work but I am so happy to get a win for Ripleyland.”
“The first lap felt so slow on that machine but then the corner speed is so great. At one point I was jumping across the track - it was a tough race.”
Rutter - who has been racing on the Isle of Man TT course since 1996 - said he was encouraged by all the fans around the course.
“I could see people throughout the course waving programmes in the air and putting their thumbs up so that helped. I also had a pit board so when I saw where I was I just got my head down without over-revving it because I have to treat the machine with respect.”
The weather was dry throughout the race but conditions were far from perfect. “There were some dodgy patches out there.”
Lee Johnston said: “The bike ran a dream but I think the pit stop let us down but I want to give all the credit to the team because the bike was brilliant.”
Jamie Coward was thrilled to have finished on the podium. He said: “To be here for the second time is fabulous. I mean, to have two podiums out of just two starts is pretty special. Not many people can say they’ve done that.”
Coward was careful to avoid the damp patches, however. “I was probably a bit too cautious around the wet patches but I didn’t know how fast I was going until I saw Rutter came flying past because I was mainly on my own for most of the race. But I caught him up on the mountain.”
Conor Cummins - who was riding a 350 Honda - retired from the race. He said: “That’s just racing - it happens. But the bike was great until I had to pull in and it was nice riding it because my dad and uncle worked on it. It was so much fun.”
Johnston echoed his sentiment: “This whole event is just so amazing and enjoyable.”
Rutter, Johnston and Coward were followed by Dominic Herbertson in fourth, Alan Oversby in fifth, Dean Harrison in sixth, Chris Swallow in seventh and Phil McGurk in eighth.
Full Race Results:
1 4 Michael Rutter Honda / Ripley Land Racing 01:06:09.267 102.660 GP2 Silver
2 13 Lee Johnston MV Agusta / Black Eagle Racing 01:06:19.519 102.395 GP2 Silver
3 2 Jamie Coward Honda / Ted Woof / Craven Honda K4 01:06:33.428 102.039 GP2 Silver
4 15 Dominic Herbertson Honda / Davies Motorsport 01:07:07.356 101.179 GP2 Silver
5 5 Alan Oversby Honda / Davies Motorsport 01:07:24.368 100.753 GP2 Silver
6 9 Dean Harrison MV Agusta / Black Eagle Racing 01:07:28.658 100.647 GP2 Silver
7 7 Chris Swallow AJS / Ripley Land Racing 01:08:25.187 99.261 GP1 Silver
8 16 Philip McGurk Honda / Chris Hughes 01:08:32.911 99.074 P2 Silver
9 20 Hefyn Owen Honda / Owen Racing 01:08:49.130 98.685 P2 Silver
10 33 Jason Markham Honda / British Army Motorsports Associati 01:09:28.925 97.743 P2 Silver
11 1 Daniel Cooper Honda / CSC Racing 01:09:31.302 97.687 GP2 Bronze
12 8 Cameron Donald Summerfield Manx Norton / McIntosh Racin 01:10:18.905 96.585 GP1 Silver
13 25 Steve Ferguson Honda / Greenall Racing / Rock Oil 01:10:44.172 96.010 GP2 Bronze
14 39 Bob Owen Aermacchi / Mike Faucett 01:11:06.834 95.500 P2 Silver
15 31 Dave Matravers Honda / Round Oak Services Ltd 01:11:12.732 95.368 P2 Silver
16 30 Nick Jefferies Honda / Goathland Garage 01:11:25.493 95.085 GP1 Silver
17 22 Ewan Hamilton Honda / McFee Family Andreas IOM 01:12:24.487 93.793 P2 Bronze
18 26 Alec Whitwell Bates Honda / Geoff Bates Racing 01:12:43.927 93.376 GP2 Bronze
19 29 Lancelot Unissart Honda / Bob Light Motorsport Ltd 01:12:50.852 93.228 P2 Bronze
20 19 David Madsen-Mygdal Honda / Team Gimbert Racing 01:13:09.388 92.834 P2 Bronze
21 44 Jaeson Caunce Honda / StarterRollers.co.uk 01:13:49.183 92.000 P2 Bronze
22 35 Russell Roebury Honda / Almik Engineering / Demar Uk 01:13:58.656 91.803 P2 Bronze
23 60 Sam Johnson Honda / JK construction / Andy Potts 01:14:32.035 91.118 P2 Bronze
24 47 Jeff Smith Honda / RobSpeed Motorcycles 01:14:58.896 90.574 P2 Bronze
25 48 Arthur Browning Seeley / Wobbly Bob Racing/Atherstone Ac 01:15:20.869 90.134 P1 Silver
26 65 Bob Millinship Ducati / Misano Design and Engineering Ltd 01:15:32.499 89.903 P1 Silver
27 61 Leon Murphy Honda / Maurice Hughes 01:16:08.837 89.188 P2
28 56 Roy Phipps Honda / Biketech Stoke Limited 01:16:15.518 89.057 P2
29 64 Tony Tuttle Honda / Tony Tuttle Racing 01:16:24.321 88.886 P2
30 81 Bernie Wright* Honda 01:16:37.808 88.626 P2
31 67 Rod Graham Ducati / Misano Design 01:16:42.528 88.535 P2
32 78 Jamie O'Brien Honda / Arnold racing 01:16:56.540 88.266 P2
33 52 Grant Sellars Norton / Self 01:16:59.662 88.206 P1 Silver
34 63 Mark Woods Honda / Mick Jones Racing 01:17:39.902 87.445 P2
35 75 Andy Wilson Suzuki / Bob Jackson Racing / EBC Brakes 01:18:07.834 86.924 250 Silver
36 41 Bruno Leroy Honda / Patrick Godet 01:18:08.219 86.917 P2
37 77 Ian Thompson Honda / MB Racing 01:19:38.833 85.269 P2
38 59 Christopher Bray BSA / Dave Hardman & TSR Vapour Blasti 01:19:55.957 84.964 P1 Bronze
39 69 David Burrell Norton 01:20:08.746 84.738 P1 Bronze
40 82 David Glover* Honda / ICE Constructions 01:20:39.858 84.193 P2
41 84 David Linsdell* Ducati / Flitwick Motorcycles 01:21:22.315 83.461 P2
42 58 Jimmy Creer Honda / Bill France / Rob Brew CGB / AH M 01:22:31.151 82.301 P2
43 70 Paul Matravers Norton / Round Oak Services Ltd 01:22:56.795 81.877 P1
44 79 Shelley Pike Ducati / SPARK 01:23:41.383 81.150 P1
45 73 Yuri Barrigan Honda / Heroic Racing 01:24:02.725 80.806 P2
46 50 Geoff Bates Bates Honda / Geoff Bates Racing 01:24:12.744 80.646 250 Bronze