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Michael Rutter out to ruffle a few feathers at North West 200

 44-year-old Michael Rutter admits landing a 14th North West 200 title would be difficult but not impossible
Willis Marshall

MICHAEL Rutter admits it will be a tall order to claim a 14th victory at the North West 200 at the age of 44. 

The evergreen English rider has been competing on the north coast for more than 20 years and is planning to give it his all again this time round. 

And, with the right bikes, Rutter might just upset the pre-race favourites.

He is on BMW machinery in the Superstock race this year, with backing from Bathams and SMT, and is tied with the legendary Joey Dunlop on 13 wins at the international road race, with his most recent victory coming in the Superstock class in 2012.

Only Alastair Seeley and Robert Dunlop, with 15 wins apiece, have tasted more success at the event. 

However, Rutter says winning at the North West has become a ‘lottery’ with so many riders capable of forcing their way into the mix.

“I think it would be very difficult,” he said of his hopes of claiming a victory. 

“It is a lottery going into that last lap at the North West.

“You could be leading going into Juniper Hill chicane and then end up third or fourth.”

The veteran will compete in the Supersport class for Bathams/SMT Racing on a Kawasaki ZX-6R and hopes to secure a ride for the two Supertwins races.

“We have the budget to get the right engines from BMW, we have K-Tech suspension so we just need to get out there and get some track-time,” he said. 

“The change in race and practice sessions means we will have a little bit more time to get the bikes dialled in properly, but I have had little or no time on the Superbike to date and that might mean we are on the back foot a bit in that class”.

Rutter has been competing in the British Superstock 1000 Championship this year and finished fifth in the opening round at Silverstone.

Most of the attention on the north coast will be on Carrickfergus rider Seeley, who looks to be primed to claim win number 16 and become the event’s top dog on his own. Seeley is very special around the Triangle circuit and it could be that he is one of the dominant names yet again.

The first practice session takes place tomorrow, with roads closing around the circuit from 9.30am until 3pm.

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