Michael Rutter took the early initiative, topping the leaderboard in Thursday morning’s free practice session for the 2018 Macau Grand Prix but it was BMW’s Peter Hickman responded in first qualifying later that afternoon to top the leaderboard.
Hickman’s time of 2’25.429s put him 0.949s ahead of Rutter who was riding the Honda RC213V-S for the first time at Macau.
Rutter again set the initial pace during Friday morning’s second and final qualifying session but Hickman moved ahead halfway through with a lap of 2’25.022s. Near the end of the 45-minute session though, Hickman increased his pace further around the 3.8-mile Guia circuit and as he flashed across the line, his lap of 2’23.904s was just 0.288s outside Stuart Easton’s outright lap record which was set back in 2010.
However, Saturday’s race saw Rutter make the perfect start and he led the field around at the end of the first lap, Hickman in second ahead of Gary Johnson.
There was little to choose between the leading five riders during the first three laps but on lap four, Hickman moved ahead of Rutter and began to edge clear.
Indeed, the duo pulled away to leave Johnson, Martin Jessopp and Danny Webb to dispute third place and Hickman’s lead at half race distance had gone out to more than a second.
Not to be outdone, eight-time winner Rutter reposnded to reduce the deficit to 0.795s by the end of lap eight but Peter dug deep once more to add another four tenths to his lead going into lap ten.
Just as he had done so, the red flags came out after an incident involving Phil Crowe and Ben Wylie, fortunately without serious injury to either rider, and the race was red flagged with the result declared at the end of lap eight.
That meant Hickman, winner of the race in 2015 and 2016, made it a hat-trick of wins at the event with Rutter claiming his 19th podium in second.
Martin Jessopp rounded out the podium on a Be-Wiser Ducati ahead of Danny Webb and Gary Johnson.
South Australia’s David Johnson finished seventh on a PR Racing BMW.
After eighteen months away from riding a Superbike, the legacy of multiple injuries sustained at the North West 200 in May 2017, McGuinness was part of the Tak Chun Group by PBM Ducati team and scored an encouraging tenth place on his return to high level Superbike competition.
Victory in Macau is the perfect end to a successful season for Hickman, who won the Superstock race and the prestigious Senior TT at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy in June. He also claimed race wins and podiums at the North West 200 and the Ulster Grand Prix. Hickman also made it into the British Superbike Championship (BSB) Showdown as one of the top-six riders over the course of the season.
Peter Hickman – P1 – BMW S 1000 RR
“As soon as we completed first practice, I was looking forward to the racing as the BMW was working well right from the off. We quickly found a great set-up and the track was in really good condition, probably the best I’ve seen it since 2015, so I was able to take pole position, which was terrific as I’m not a qualifying rider really, more of a race day man. Michael got a great start in the race but I was happy to sit behind him and follow him for a few laps before making my move. I tried to break him and open up a gap but after half distance he started to reel me in so I got my head down again to pull away once more before the red flags came out. Thankfully, the boys involved are ok and I’m just delighted for Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing to have won and with Michael in second, it’s been the perfect day.”
Michael Rutter – P2 – Honda RC 213V-S
“It was always going to be difficult coming here with a brand new bike, particularly given the limited track time we had prior to Thursday, and I’ve been on a steep learning curve but the team have worked fantastic. I was pleased to be on the front row although I was a bit disappointed with my own performance as I lost a bit of concentration on my flying laps and felt that I could have been a lot closer to Peter. I got the perfect start to the race though to grab the lead immediately and I got my head down although I knew Peter would be right with me. When he came by, he pulled a huge gap on me in just one lap but I got my head down again to close in and I could see his rear tyre had a bit of wear in it which I hoped might play into my hands. He pulled away again but I really enjoyed the race and having come with the aim of getting two bikes on the podium, I’m delighted we’ve done exactly that and I can’t thank the team and all the sponsors enough.”
Martin Jessopp – P3 – Be Wiser Ducati
“I didn’t get a good start, but the key was not to panic as you can’t win round here on the first lap. I was happy to sit there but by the time I got up to third, there was too much of a gap. As crazy as it sounds, I’d love another race tomorrow as there is still so much more to come from both me and the bike. The PBM team have been fantastic but I’ve had so much to learn as I didn’t want to push too hard and make a mistake. A few changes now and we could perhaps take it to the two Aspire-Ho Bathams bikes but overall, I’m happy enough with a podium.”
Macau GP Results 2018
Peter Hickman GBR Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing
Michael Rutter GBR Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing
Martin Jessopp GBR Be Wiser Tak Chun Group Ducati by PBM
Danny Webb GBR MGM by Penz134
Gary Johnson GBR Briggs Equipment Kawasaki
Horst Saiger AUT Saiger Racing
David Johnson AUS PR Racing
Derek Sheils IRL MGM by Penz13
Davey Todd GBR Puraglobe Syntainics Racing
John McGuinness GBR Be Wiser Tak Chun Group Ducati by PBM
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.