LUCKLESS DAY FOR STOBART RIDERS AT CADWELL PARK
At the track where the Paul Bird Motorsport Team clinched their second successive British Superbike Championship title just three short years ago, it wasn't a happy return to Cadwell Park for Stobart Motorsport riders Michael Rutter and Michael Laverty over the August Bank Holiday weekend as round eleven of the 2006 Bennetts British Superbike Championship was played out in front of another record crowd.
After a number of problems had beset the VK and Vent Axia-backed team during Sunday's free practice and Audi Performance Qualifying, triple series runner up Rutter started the day's two races from row two of the grid with team mate Michael Laverty a row further back.
With sunshine and showers interspersing the afternoon, tyre choice was always going to be critical and on both occasions, the team went with the incorrect options for the pair of 18 lap races.
Just prior to race one, a thunderstorm soaked the track and at the last minute, team boss Paul Bird advised his pair of riders to go with wet weather tyres only for it to rapidly dry and leave Rutter and Laverty scrabbling for grip. Rutter eventually pitted and chanced to slicks but did feature in the results whilst Laverty struggled to 12th at the flag.
Race two saw a damp track with threatening clouds and the two Stobart riders opted for an intermediate front tyre only for the track to once again dry and leave them languishing down the order. Rutter's misery was compounded when he retired and Laverty was pipped for a top six position on the last lap.
Commenting afterwards, Rutter said: "Tyre choice was the problem in the first race and I had to pull in after a problem in the second one too. There's not much more to say."
Laverty added "In race one, we chose the wrong tyre so I dropped back and finished in twelfth. In race two the track was pretty much dry all the way round so I got some good lap times but Steve Plater got past me on the last hairpin so I was a bit annoyed to lose that place."
Team owner Paul Bird took full responsibility for his incorrect advice in race one but still left Cadwell disappointed: "When luck's not going your way it doesn't matter what you do and we're just having one of those years. I nearly sacked myself after cocking up in race one so I left it to the boys in race two and it wasn't much better. We just need to round off a forgettable season in style at the final two rounds and move on from here."
The next round of the championship takes place at Silverstone in three weeks time on 16th/17th September.