Rutter’s team tough it out at Snetterton, but spirits are raised by arrival of new team-mate...
BMW S1000RR, Yamaha YZF-R3
ALEC TAGUE BATHAMS RACING BRITISH SUPERSTOCK/ROAD RACING
AFTER THE LAST few months of road racing, I’m feeling refreshed and ready for the second half of the season. I even found the time to take Mrs Tague for a nice break away, and blew a stack of money on a nice meal or two. I’ve also been getting my head around so many people coming up and asking me for my autograph while we were at the North West 200 and the like... One of them was a Canadian guy who told me he looks forward to this feature every month, so it’s good to know someone’s reading what I’ve got to say!
Getting back in action at Snetterton came as a bit of a jolt, though. It was a tough meeting, for a number of reasons. Michael always goes well at Snet, and we’re usually bothering the podium. But we were outside the top 10 all weekend this time round. Michael wouldn’t mind me saying that he’s dealing with a number of issues related to having elderly parents at the moment, so he had a lot on his mind. The bike was as good as ever for the whole weekend, but another factor in our 10th place finish was the simple fact that Michael was also coming off the back of seven weeks of racing – it’s going to take its toll on a man of his age!
We were lacking a bit of punch because we were once again running a stock road bike engine as we’d lost the 5.2 Superstock motor at the roads. The competition at this track is always tight, and being three tenths off the pace will effectively lose you eight positions. Rutter brought it home for 10th place, and only lost ninth place at the last corner. He did the job, he fought hard and got us well into the points.
We’ve had podiums every time we’ve raced at Knockhill, but this time round we decided not to make the journey up to Scotland. Basically, we all went to the workshop, and looked at a load of blown-up engines, bikes with their front ends out, there were still flies plastered all over Michael’s TT bike... The place looked like a scrap yard. Me and Matt Batham thought the best thing would be for Michael to take a break, and truly I don’t think he’s that interested in riding a bike at the moment. We’ve had two solid weeks in the workshop, and, thanks to BMW we’ve new engines back, and the bikes are rebuilt. Rutter is going to sit out Brands, but he’ll be back for Thruxton, all guns blazing.
But the team has to go on – we’ve sponsors to keep happy... So, we’ve signed Taylor Mackenzie, on a temporary basis. I’m really excited about that – he’s young, new, brave and fresh. We’d never take a rider on unless we thought they could move the team along, either. Taylor won the British Superstock title on a BMW back in 2016, so we know he can win races for us. So, it’ll be a single-rider team at Brands, but Michael will be there in the form of mentor and team manager to do all he can to help Taylor.
We offered Mackenzie the ride on the Monday after Knockhill, and he’s tested the bike for us at Silverstone already. The short-term target is for us to get the kid on course and to get the team back at the sharp end.
After Brands, we’ll run Taylor and Michael on a bike each, and if Mackenzie is happy we’ll look at continuing with him. All we’ll need to do is draft in another
mechanic as we take it round by round. Also, having a hungry team-mate might be just the thing to spur Michael on, something to give him a kick up the arse! Even at his age, Rutter isn’t getting stale – he’s still ridiculously determined. So, don’t you worry – we’ll get the Michael we know and love back again.
We’ve spent a bit of money getting the bike sorted for Taylor – it’s wearing a No77 now, and we’ve obviously had to invest in new bodywork and spares, but it’ll all be worth it. As it stands, we’ll have him running the standard engine at Brands, but I know for a fact that our 5.2 motor is on its way to the UK from BMW as I speak.
And if you needed something else to get excited about, we’ve got something very special in the pipeline for the Macau GP this year. Yes, we’re already thinking about our racing schedule for November. I can’t tell you any more about what it is at the moment but trust me, it’s going to be amazing...
‘Taylor Mackenzie is young, new, brave and fresh. He can win races for us’
Snetterton saw Rutter battle his way into the top 10Far right: Taylor Mackenzie got to grips with the Bathams S1000RR at a Silverstone trackday in mid-July D
Rutter’s commitment is never in doubt. He just needs a little personal time
DAVID PARSONS/ PICMAN
DAVID PARSONS/ PICMAN