Words & Images courtesy of Sports Bureau of the Macao
Fans and spectators looked to Macao this year in the hope of seeing a special race to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix and what they got was a classic confrontation from the greatest road racers in the world, with Britain’s Peter Hickman (Bathams/SMT BMW) snatching a win in a race packed with last-gasp moments.
Pole man Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW) didn’t get the start he needed to secure his first victory on the Guia Circuit, and Michael Rutter (Bathams/SMT BMW) seized the moment, streaking off the line in pursuit of win number nine, with newcomer Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) also getting away well and Hickman making a great start from the next row.
But Jessopp wasn’t done and soon became the focal point of a battle which raged throughout the opening laps, four riders in a two-second spread; Rutter, Irwin and Jessopp swapping places in the slipstream and under brakes in all the classic overtaking spots, with Hickman right behind.
A box-full of neutrals braking into Lisboa sent Jessopp back to fourth and lucky to be upright, but he was soon back on the pace and back up to battle Hickman for second-place honours. This nose-to-tail battle looked like going all the way to the end when fuel problems sent Irwin into the pits to retire.
With a couple of laps to go Hickman swept past Rutter on Dunlop tyres that were in better condition than his rival’s Metzlers, and after that he was never challenged for the win, although Rutter was hounded all the way to the flag by a determined Martin Jessopp.
Rutter never wavered, and as the crowd rose to its feet the trio crossed the line with less than a second separating them, Hickman the winner by half a second, Rutter a mere tenth ahead of Jessopp.
Conor Cummins (Honda Racing) was fourth and twenty seconds behind, heading up a best-of-the-rest leaderboard that still reads like road racing royalty, underlining the ferocity of the battle at the front.
Glenn Irwin – DNF
“To say I’m gutted is an understatement. I felt happy running with the other three riders and the plan was to make a move on the last lap. I pulled back half a second on Rutter on the lap Glenn Irwinbefore and was within 0.8 seconds of the lead when I suffered a technical problem on the penultimate lap. It’s disappointing as I really felt I could have had a podium but these things happen. I’d like to say a massive thanks to my team, Ducati and the sponsors for making this happen and I’d love to come back again next year with the PBM Be Wiser Ducati Team and finish the job off.”
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.