Peter Hickman wins 2015 Macau Grand Prix – BMW riders fill podium
Peter Hickman (Briggs Equipment BMW) took a spectacular win at the 49th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix in a race that was closer than the final margin of 6.2 seconds would make it appear.
Second place for Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW) was scant reward for his hard work and pace throughout the weekend. Convincingly fastest in qualifying and warm-up, he took a gamble on opening enough of an early advantage on a softer tyre to maintain his lead to the end of 12 laps, but by half-distance the dice had fallen in Hickman’s favour and Jessopp had no reply, though he was far enough ahead of the rest of the field that his second place was never under threat.
After a 12-lap battle, Michael Rutter (Penz13.com BMW) finished third, adding to his vast array of silverware earned at Macau but missing out on increasing his record 8-win tally by just under ten seconds – that was the margin between first and third places on an afternoon when a dozen riders all tried their hardest to get on the podium.
Said Hickman: “It feels absolutely fantastic! This is only my second time in Macau. I’ve not been doing the road racing scene for very long, but my British Superbike championships have been pretty strong the last couple of years. It’s fantastic to be able to transfer between the two.
“We all knew from the qualifying and practices that Martin [Jessopp] was really strong, and the pace that he had compared to everyone else seemed too much, to be quite honest. I was on the Dunlop tyres and [Jessopp and Rutter] are on different, so we knew that we were going to be strong for the second half of the race, and I figured that Martin was going to pull away in the first five or six laps and then hopefully we’d come back to him. Martin put in such a fast lap. I thought, I just need to be clean, don’t make any mistakes and just be as fast as I can. As soon as I had a chance, I was close enough at Lisboa and I passed him straight away. Fortunately the plan worked.”
Throughout the race Rutter was involved in a ferocious battle with a virtual who’s who of motorcycle road racing, swapping places with Gary Johnson on another of the Team Penzkofer bikes, with 2013 winner Ian Hutchinson (Paul Bird Kawasaki) occasionally intruding in his attempts to get on the third step of the podium. Meanwhile, Honda duo John McGuinness and Conor Cummins held a watching brief that was never more than fractions of a second behind as the race unfolded through an unbroken sequence of dramatic laps.
Michael Rutter – “I went off the line and the traction control light immediately came on, which basically meant that everything shut down! I had to learn how to ride the bike again because it kept wheeling everywhere and I dropped back to fifth as a result. However, I was able to be a bit smoother on the throttle because the traction control light saved the back tyre a bit and I managed to get myself back up to third. We had very hot conditions throughout the week but the track was in good condition and I was happy to finish third and get another rostrum. The result was what I expected to be fair as Peter and Martin have been riding their bikes all year in BSB and it was always going to be a tough ask to beat those two!”
It was the seasoned McGuinness, the most successful road racer of his generation, who provided the final thrills, swooping past Gary Johnson on the wrong side of the tarmac at the endless left-hander of Dona Maria in a move worthy of a bid for victory, easily the most breathtaking moment in thirty minutes of exceptional racing.
John McGuinness – “I got an average start off the line and after that, it was just wheel-to-wheel for the whole 12-laps. I had a great race with Michael, Gary and Hutchy, and then Stuart [Easton] came from nowhere and got stuck into our group. The move on Gary for fourth was brave, but I had confidence in myself and the Fireblade that we’d make it, so thought just go for it! I am slightly disappointed that I wasn’t on the podium, but I’ve had a good year and I enjoyed myself today so I’m happy with fourth, it’s a really good way to end the season.”
Ian Hutchinson took fifth place ahead of Conor Cummins and Horst Saiger.
David Johnson just managed to hang on to a top ten finish after a gearbox failure late in the race left the South Australian in fifth gear for the final 6.12km of the Macau GP course. Johnson had been in ninth before the failure saw him lose ninth place to Lee Johnston and Dan Cooper nearly managed to push Johnson outside the top ten.
David Johnson – “It was a frustrating Macau GP for me. We had gearbox problems from the first day which was strange as the bike was brand new! Luckily the BMW factory guys from Germany were there and sorted the problem but I missed valuable track time. We only get 1 practice, 2 qualifiers and a race so if you miss a session, your screwed
“So I started a hit back for the race but got away with the front bunch but couldn’t stay with them. I had 9th in the bag on the last lap with a 3 second buffer over Lee Johnston until me gear lever bolt broke…. Nightmare!!!! So I was stuck in 5th gear for the entire last lap…. Lee got past but I managed to hold 10th… Just! Fried the shit out of my clutch on the way though!
“Happy enough with a top ten after so many problems. Really felt I could be a top five this year but is wasn’t to be. Next year.”
Dan Cooper: “It wasn’t easy out there as it was incredibly competitive and I was giving away something like 20bhp to all the Superbikes and whilst I could stay in contention with them through all the twisty stuff, when it came to the long straights back to the start and finish and down to Lisboa, I couldn’t get close enough to make a pass. I think we did the best with what we had and overall, I’m really happy with how the race went, the end result and how I rode. It’s been a good year for me and I’d like to thank all my sponsors for making it a memorable season and now I’m really looking forward to 2016.”
2015 Macau Grand Prix – 49th Motorcycle Edition
- Peter Hickman – BMW
- Martin Jessopp – BMW +6.3
- Michael Rutter – BMW +15.6
- John McGuinness – Honda +17.71
- Gary Johnson – BMW +18.80
- Ian Hutchinson – Kawasaki +19.27
- Conor Cummions – Honda +19.99
- Horst Saiger – Kawasaki +28.28
- Lee Johnston – BMW +49.60
- David Johnson – BMW +53.86
Peter Hickman confirmed with GBmoto Kawasaki for 2016 Isle of Man TT
The TT’s fastest ever newcomer Peter Hickman has been confirmed in the GBmoto Kawasaki team for next year’s Isle of Man TT Races fuelled by Monster Energy as well as other international road races and the British Superbike Championship. The Louth rider will compete on the latest factory-backed ZX-10R machinery under the JG Speedfit banner
‘Hicky’, who clinched his maiden win on the international stage at the Ulster Grand Prix in August, joins James Ellison in the team’s BSB line-up but will spearhead GBmoto Racing’s roads challenge on his own as the team, which tackled the big road race meetings for the first time this year with Lincolnshire rider Gary Johnson, challenges for a coveted victory between the hedges.
“I’m really pleased to be joining Mark [Smith-Halvorsen] and the GBmoto squad again. They’re an incredibly professional outfit and with the factory support from Kawasaki, coupled with the awesome new ZX-10R, it’s the best package on the grid,” said Hickman, who previously rode for GBmoto in the British championship in 2013.
“I’m really looking forward to getting the Kawasaki out on the roads,” he added. “It will be the first time I’ve ridden a different bike at the North West, TT and Ulster, but the new Superbike is an absolute weapon on paper and with factory support, I see no reason why it won’t relate to the track.”
He continued: “To get the first win this year was incredible, and although it takes a lot of luck I definitely think we’ll be able to challenge at the front in 2016.”
GBmoto Racing recently announced a three-year deal as Kawasaki’s official British Superbike and international road racing team and is set to benefit from increased factory support, working closely with Kawasaki’s World Superbike team next season.
Team principal Mark Smith-Halvorsen said Hickman was a ‘rare breed’ capable of winning races in both disciplines of the sport.
“On the roads side of things, we’re under no illusions as to how tough it is to run at the front and secure a podium,” he said.
“It will be only our second year competing between the hedges, but Peter has shown his incredible talent, remaining the fastest ever newcomer to the TT as well as setting the eighth fastest lap in history around the course and also securing an Ulster Grand Prix win in only his second year.”
“We’ll approach the three events with the same professionalism and enthusiasm as we do for everything and with increased support from Kawasaki, I’m confident that we’ll be able to have a very strong showing.”
“I’m really pleased to have Peter back with the team for 2016. Over the last couple of years he’s proven to be one of the rare breed of riders who is capable of not only running at the front of the MCE British Superbike Championship but also compete for glory on the roads,” added Smith-Halvorsen.”