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Michael Rutter will return to the British Championship paddock this season after announcing his 2016 campaign with the Bathams SMT Racing in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Championship.
The Bridgnorth rider has been a stalwart in the British Superbike Championship since the 1990s, finishing second overall in 2002 and 2004, and despite limited appearances in 2015 he returns with a vengeance this year for a concerted attack on the Superstock title on board a BMW S1000R.
Long time backers Bathams Brewery will be title sponsor of the team, alongside SMT Racing, who return to the British Championship after a year's absence for the Lancashire-based team who have previously been contenders in MCE BSB, plus the Superstock and British F1 Sidecar Championships.
Rutter has already rode briefly for the team in 2009 MCE BSB, taking a best finish of fourth at Mallory Park whilst he has also competed at the Macau Grand Prix for them, winning the race in 2012.
Rutter said: "I'm really excited about the new season ahead and it's fantastic to have such a great team and with great support behind me. It's going to be a new challenge for me contesting the Superstock Championship as opposed to being in BSB but it's one I'm relishing.
"I'm used to riding Superstock machines on the roads and whilst the Pirelli National Superstock Championship is one of the most competitive out there, I'm confident we can challenge for the title. I'm still fit and enjoying my racing as much as ever whilst the team knows what it takes to win so I can't wait to get another season underway."
Robin Croft, Team Owner SMT Racing, commented: "We have been talking to Michael and Bathams on and off for a few seasons now and are delighted to have formed an alliance that we hope will bring success. We are taking in the Superstock Championship, North West 200, Isle of Man TT and Macau GP so we have a busy season ahead of us. With Michael's tremendous experience though and a team like Bathams/SMT around him we are looking forward to a successful and enjoyable years racing."
Matt Batham, Director of Bathams Brewery added: "We've sponsored Michael for some time now and have also known Robin from SMT for a number of years so we feel it's a good partnership for all concerned and we're all really looking forward to the new season. We've set ourselves some high targets for both the Superstock Championship and at the International road races and we're aiming to run at the sharp end and give Michael everything he needs to do the job. Everything's in place and with some great sponsors on board and some great technical support from BMW, we're looking forward to having a safe and successful year of racing."
Last updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2016