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The Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati team head to Spain this week for their first pre-season test ahead of the 2011 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship which starts at Brands Hatch this Easter.
Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp are ready to get their preparations for the new season underway onboard the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams sponsored Ducati 1198 which have undergone extensive development over the winter. Rutter finished fifth in last year's championship standings and is targeting further improvement at the team's tests at Cartagena and Guadix in a bid to come back stronger this season. Jessopp is eager for his track return after being sidelined through injury for the final rounds of his 2010 campaign and is hoping that a recent infection in his leg will have cleared completely before the track time begins. The test will also mark Michael Booth's debut with the team as the Hull-based rider targets the National Superstock Championship title.
Rutter said: "I have been speaking to the team on a regular basis and I know that there has been a lot of work going on over the winter to develop the bikes so I am looking forward to seeing the difference when we get out on track. The first day of the test will always be about getting back on the Ducati and riding again but after that then it will obviously be a case of making changes to improve the pace and continue to make progress so we are in a stronger position for when we start the season at Brands Hatch. The whole Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati team want to push forward again this year and get back to winning races, so hopefully testing will set us up well for the season."
Jessopp said: "I am happy now that it is finally time to get back on track as the team have been working hard over the winter with the development of the Ducatis but over the past week I have had a bit of a problem with my leg. I had an operation before Christmas to remove one of the screws that was needed in my leg after the crash at Mallory Park but then I got an infection and I am currently taking antibiotics. It has been getting better each day so by the time we get on track I am hoping that it will be clear as we still have some time before our first test kicks off. The new bikes look mega and now I want to get the year off to the best possible start."
Booth said: "It will be my first ride on the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati so the main focus for me is going to be getting used to the new bike and completing a good number of laps on each day. The characteristics I am expecting to be different, but I am fortunate that I have an experienced team and Michael and Martin there too to give me some advice. Testing is what you wait all winter for as it means the first race isn't far away and I am looking forward to my first ride with the team."
Team Manager Phil Jessopp concluded: "The whole of the Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati team are really fired up to get back on track for the first time this year and we are all feeling really positive about the developments that have been made since the end of last season. Michael and Martin obviously rode the Ducatis last season so for them it is a case of getting back out and working to build on their achievements last year. We welcome Mike into the team as he will be riding with us for the first time this week and we are looking forward to him making good progress in Spain."