Stuart Easton Sweeps to Fourth Macau GP Victory
Stuart Easton got a perfect start from pole position to claim his fourth Guia Circuit victory in four attempts by winning the Suncity Group Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix. There was a three-year gap between his last win and this one, but no-one at the circuit would have known, based on his dominant performance.
Increasing his advantage by over a second a lap on every lap but the last around the 6.12km Armco lined street Circuito Da Guia, Easton rode the PBM Kawasaki to a margin of victory which had dropped from 17 to 14 seconds as he visibly eased off and cruised the last couple of laps.
“It didn’t feel that easy! The plan worked, which was to get away in front and settle in for a couple of laps, and try and set a pace that I felt fast enough but still comfortable with so if anyone came with me, we could race at the end.”
Easton continued, “It’s nice to win on my return having missed three years, to take pole and to win. I couldn’t have asked more from the tyres, from the bike and from the whole team.”
His relaxed ride was in stark contrast to the huge battle behind him as half a dozen riders scrapped over the last two podium places. Ian Hutchinson, on the second of the Paul Bird machines, launched an early bid for glory at Lisboa on lap one but overcooked it and took to the escape road.
Eight-time winner Michael Rutter started slowly from second on the grid, but soon put the Milwaukee Yamaha back in second place. After brushing the wall at Donna Maria in his pursuit of Easton, he decided second place would have to do – and immediately regretted the decision. He spent the next ten laps fending off first Lee Johnston (Honda) and then Gary Johnson (Honda) and finally Martin Jessopp (BMW).
“We knew Stuart was going to be competitive, but he’s done a brilliant job. I got a real bad start. I got through and thought ‘right I’ve got to get my head down and get on the back of him straight away’ and I clipped the wall. Then I thought I’d try and keep second and if I stayed smooth I’d be, but that wasn’t the answer – Lee [Johnston] passed me, Martin passed me. We kept passing but it was all clean racing. I could hear them coming at the hairpin and I thought ‘I just wish they’d clear off!’”
While Rutter really had to earn his second position by defending hard, Jessopp earned third by fighting his way forwards, finishing half a second behind the Yamaha and only a second clear of Gary Johnson.
“We put on a good show. We had a fuse go on the bike yesterday and that cost us as we had to start way back on the grid. It was good fun, a good battle and we thought we might as well take it to Michael, me and Gary [Johnston], but Stuart’s made us all look a bit silly today.”
Defending Macau GP Champion and Stuart Easton’s Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team-mate Ian Hutchinson was hoping to add to the sensational victory he took last year. The Yorkshireman started in fourth on the grid and was running with the leading bunch until he overshot the tricky Lisboa corner in the early stages of the race before rejoining well down the order. However, it got worse for the eight-time TT winner from Bingley when he slid off at slow speed at the Melco Hairpin and retired.
Ian Hutchinson: “I felt I had good pace but it just wasn’t to be this year. Practice and qualifying went OK but I made a mistake on the opening lap and that was my race over. Then I tipped off at walking pace trying to make up lost ground and that was that. Well done to Stuart on a fantastic win, if I had to hand my number one plate over to anyone, it would be him.”
Paul Bird, Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki Team Boss: “It’s brilliant to get another Macau GP win, that was a proper job! Stuart has been a class above everyone else here all week which is even more impressive when you consider he’s not been here for three years. The others simply had no answer for him again today. Hutchy didn’t have any luck today but he’ll bounce back and I’m sure he’ll be joining us for a celebration drink later! Thanks to all our sponsors, especially The Venetian Hotel, Monster Energy and Rapid Solicitors, it’s great to have such iconic brands associated with us.”
Metzler UK Racing Manager Jason Griffiths attended the entire event supporting teams with their tyre options and witnessed Easton take his pole position time on a Metzler Racetec Slick race tyre, as opposed to a qualifying tyre. “A Macau GP victory is a fantastic way to finish the Road Racing season for Metzeler! We were treated to a demonstration of precision riding from Stuart this afternoon. Track temperature today was 40 degrees, as opposed to 22 degrees for yesterday’s qualifying. The performance of the Racetec Slicks was absolutely superb, looking in perfect condition at the end. Our thanks must go to Paul Bird and the PBM Kawasaki squad, a pleasure to work with and congratulations also to Martin Jessop on a fine third place.”
Morecambe’s John McGuinness finished his injury-interrupted 2014 road racing season at the weekend with a satisfying seventh place at the Macau Grand Prix. Riding the Pirtek Pro Bolt Honda, the 21-times TT winner came through from tenth on the grid to claim his 15th top ten finish around the 3.8-mile Armco-lined course.
The 42-year old was having his first outing since taking third overall in last month’s Stars at Darley meeting and the week started well when he placed a strong fifth in the opening qualifying session. John went quicker still in Friday’s second and final session, reducing his lap time by eight tenths of a second to 2m29.986s, but a number of his rivals improved by over two seconds and the end result was that he found himself bumped back to tenth overall
It all meant he would have to start Saturday’s 12-lap race from the fourth row of the grid. Riding the CBR1000RR machine ridden this season in the British Superbike Championship by Peter Hickman, a solid start by John saw him complete the opening lap in ninth place and for the next few laps he was locked in battle with BMW riders Jimmy Storrar and Steve Mercer. By half race distance, he’d moved up to seventh as he overtook Mercer just as Storrar retired and it was here where he took the chequered flag for yet another strong Macau GP finish.
John McGuinness: “I’ve been coming to Macau since 1998 and whilst I’ve won before and stood on the podium a number of times, I’m satisfied with the result this year. It’s an incredibly demanding course, both physically and mentally, and also very technical so it’s all about being in the groove and finding a good rhythm. Everyone else out there has had a full season of racing under their belts so it was always going to be difficult for me given the little track time I’ve had due to my wrist injury but I couldn’t fault how the race went. The bike went well, I felt strong and competitive and enjoyed myself so a big thanks to everyone in the team for all their hard work.”
The 2015, 49th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, is schedule to take place on 12-15 November 2015.
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