Podium delight as Rutter pays poignant tribute to his father

Michael Rutter marked the end of an emotionally-charged 2020 British Superbike campaign by paying the perfect tribute to his late father.

This year has been challenging for so many reason but the BSB organisers still managed to put on a great show despite Covid restrictions, huge delays to the start of the season and running triple headers every weekend, all without any fans.

Rutter, from Bridgnorth, had been plagued with more bad luck after seeing his star Bathams Racing rider, Richard Cooper, badly break his leg after one round.

After drafting in Dan Linfoot, his BMWs experienced a series of problems, meaning he decided not to take part in any racing himself until the final round.

But all that drama was put to one side at Brands Hatch over the weekend as Rutter, who is also team manager, turned out in stunning leathers and livery, to pay tribute to his father, Tony, who passed away earlier this year.

The 48-year-old even managed to qualify 12th and nick a point in the final National Superstock 1000 race of the year, while Linfoot stormed to a second-place finish, just 0.044-seconds off victory.

Rutter had swapped the usual black, gold and red of Bathams Racing for the iconic red and blue of Tony's Ducati, on which he achieved much of his success.

Rutter said: “Wow! What a weekend. We really needed that breakthrough for ourselves, our sponsors and of course the fans.

"Since the last round, we've burned a lot of midnight oil and as Dan's performance shows it's paid off.

"I've got to say a huge thank you to everyone in the team for all their effort getting the bike up to speed, and the fans for their ongoing support.

"Also a big thank you to our sponsors who have stuck with us during what has been a difficult season for the team.

"It was great to be able to do the tribute to my dad. He passed away during the lockdown, so I wasn't able to do anything for him at the time.

"Brands Hatch was one of his favourite tracks, so it seemed like as good a time and place as any to do something for him.

"The reaction from fans has blown me away. He was a quiet man and tried to avoid the attention that came with his success on track, so I think he would have been surprised and he would have been a bit embarrassed by the reaction from everyone to the tribute.

"I've got to say a massive thank you to BMW for letting me make their bike look like dad's Ducati, and also Alpinestars leathers and Shoei helmets for the replica kit. It was all perfect.

"As for my own race, it's safe to say I paid the price for not racing all year while the team focused on Richard and then Dan.

"However, I really enjoyed it and I'm happy that whilst it was the only race I started in 2020, it does mean that it's now 31 years racing without missing a season for me. I must be mad!

"I want to say thanks to Dan for coming into our team at a time when the bike was far from it's full potential and things weren't great for us after losing Richard at round one.

"His effort on track and in the garage with the team has been so valuable to us. I'm delighted that we were able to repay him at the end, and get him back to the front, racing for victory.”

Passenger Tom Bryant was also back in action for the final time as British Sidecar championship was wrapped up at Brands Hatch.

Bryant, from Shrewsbury, and driver Tommy Philp qualified eighth for the first race in cold but dry conditions and were up to seventh by the end of lap one,

But as they went down Paddock Hill Bend they were hit by another outfit and both sidecars spun off into the gravel trap, ending their race prematurely.

On Sunday morning, they lined up at the back of the grid in 24th position for the second 14-lap race but with double points up for grabs they immediately began working their way through the field.

They were soon in a battle with Ben Holland and Tom Christie, and Rob Biggs and Jeroen Schmitz, for seventh place.

As they came out of Druids for the last time, Philp and Bryant were preparing to steal place when the red flag came out, ending their race early in ninth place.

The result left them seventh in the over all standings, which was a superb feat considering they had also suffered three DNFs during the shortened campaign.

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