Macau GP: Event preview

Spectacular Entry for Iconic Race The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, the unique two-wheel spectacular which has achieved iconic status with many road racing fans across the globe, boasts a fittingly dazzling field for the 42nd running of the...

Spectacular Entry for Iconic Race

The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, the unique two-wheel spectacular which has achieved iconic status with many road racing fans across the globe, boasts a fittingly dazzling field for the 42nd running of the event.

Six-time Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix winner Michael Rutter will return to Macau's Guia Circuit this year in an attempt to finally break the record he shares with motorcycle legend Ron Haslam and capture a seventh win at Macau. The Briton will be attempting to take the historic victory with North West 200 Ducati.

Rutter last won the Motorcycle Grand Prix in 2005, and the 35-year old is itching to stand atop the podium once more. However, he has twice been prevented from going one better than "Rocket Ron". In 2006, he missed out on the record win, finishing second, while last year, despite starting from pole, he finished down in 11th place after being forced down the slip road three laps from the flag. But Macau is among his best circuits and Rutter must be considered amongst the favourites.

This year, Rutter will be on board a 1200cc Ducati, the first time a Ducati has run at Macau since 2004.

However, as in previous years, there will be plenty of top road and endurance riders from across the globe ready and able to deny Rutter his seventh win.

Fellow Briton John McGuinness, 36, the 2001 Macau winner and last year's runner-up, won his 14th Isle of Man TT this year, taking victory in June's Senior TT Race. McGuinness, having set a new lap record last year, will make his 11th visit to Macau, this time with Ventaxia VK Honda, and must be a hot favourite for a second victory on the Guia Circuit.

Joining McGuinness in Paul Bird's Ventaxia VK Honda squad is an American newcomer, Mike Barnes, one of the most versatile and talented from the USA. He has the skill, machinery and the pedigree to do very well when he has learnt the circuit.

Joining the 12-strong British contingent is Stuart Easton, Supersport winner at Macau in 2002, and second runner-up overall in 2004. The 25-year- old was forced to miss the event last year after breaking his left heel in a test-day incident in France. Easton, racing this year in the British Superbike Championship, finished fifth at Oulton Park when he returned to action after breaking his wrist. Easton will race with Hydrex-Bike Animal Honda on a Superbike this year.

Partnering Easton will be Guy Martin. Although the 27-year-old qualified fifth for Macau last year, he was unable to start the race due to injury, but he has been in impressive form on pure-road circuits this season, including the Isle of Man TT races, the NW200 and Oliver's Mount, Scarborough, where he created history winning the International Steve Henshaw Gold Cup for a record-breaking 6th time, the first rider ever to achieve such a feat. Riding the Hydrex-Bike Animal Honda he dominated proceedings to win by over 13 seconds, claiming the circuit outright lap record along the way, whilst he also won both Superbike races to crown a highly successful weekend.

Winner of the 600cc Supersport class three times in a row Steve Allan is back, this year on an AVIVA Kawasaki superbike. The likeable Scot races in the British Superstock Championship and at Macau will be joined on the team by Briton Ian Hutchinson, a TT winner and strong road racer who is making his fourth visit to Macau.

Another strong contender is Thomas Hinterreiter back with Macau.com Yart. The 41-year old Austrian finished on the podium at Macau last year, his 3rd place a career best at Macau. The highly-experienced endurance rider has finished as high as second in the World Endurance Championships.

Conor Cummins from the Isle of Man is back to compete in his second Grand Prix after the young rider impressed with a fifth-place finish in his debut last year. In 2007, Cummins was crowned Irish Superbike Road Race Champion, Irish Supersport Road Race Champion and Duke Road Race Rankings Champion. The 22-year old had success this year at the Isle of Man TT and North West 200 and races in the British Superstock Championship. Cummins also took part in a one-off race at Croft in the British Supersport Championship.

Cummins will be competing at Macau with Team Of Paris A.I.M. Racing on a Yamaha. Also with Team Of Paris this year are Frenchmen Gerald Muteau, Amaury Baratin, Fabrice Miguet and Pierre Chapuis. Muteau and Chapuis have been racing together in the World Endurance Championship, where they finished 13th in the Le Mans 24 hours. The pair has partnered for several French endurance races and while both have raced at Macau before, Baratin and Miguet will be making their Macau debuts.

Amongst the four-rider American entry for the Far East Classic is Mark "Thriller" Miller, sixth last year. The licensed pilot, who finished on the podium in 2000, is back with Corona Extra Honda Racing. Team mate for Macau is fellow American Jeremy Toye, who just missed out on a podium finish at Macau last year. Toye recorded two finishes in the WSMC 200 in the US this season.

From the Pacific comes the duo of New Zealander Bruce Anstey, making a return to Macau after a five-year absence, and popular Australian Cameron Donald. The pair will be racing with Relentless Suzuki by Tas. Thirty-nine- year-old Anstey will make his superbike debut at Macau this year, having finished second in the 600cc Supersport class in his last appearance here in 2003. Anstey has recorded several successes, including a triple win at the 2004 Ulster Grand Prix. This year's results included a win in the Supersport 2, and a second place in the Superbike race, at the Isle of Man TT.

For Donald, who won the Supersport Class in 2001 and 2003, this will be only his second time on a superbike in seven Macau appearances. This year, Donald won both the Superstock and the Superbike races at the Isle of Man TT and at the North West 200, he was third in the Superstock race and second in the Superbike race.

Representing Portugal are Luis Carreira, Rui Reigoto and Jose Leite. Carreira and Leite both competed last year, with each rider achieving their best result to date. Reigoto, who last competed at Macau in 2005, will race with Vodafone/Kawasaki/KMS.

Amongst the seven exciting newcomers making their Macau debuts this year is professional AMA American road racer Scott Jensen, who has competed in the AMA Superbike category since 2002. The 46-year old is entered on a Moto Garage Racing Suzuki.

British newcomers include James Storrar and Steve Mercer on DMR Racing Yamahas, and Gary Johnson on a BTS Racing Honda. Storrar, 21, has raced in the British Superstock Cup, finishing fifth overall in 2006. This year, Johnson raced at the Isle of Man TT and the North West 200.

Also new is Belgian Marc Fissette, with IXO-Churrascao Racing. This year Fissette has been racing in the Belgian Endurance Championship and the 34- year old has won the Belgian Supersport Championship and the Belgian Superstock Championship.

In the 600cc Supersport category are Rico Penzkofer, runner-up in the class at Macau last year and racing in 2008 with the IGT-Yamaha Austria Racing Team, Briton Keith Amor on an A.I.M. Racing Yamaha, Frenchman Gerald Muteau of Team Of Paris on the only Triumph in the field, and Macau's Joao Fernandes on a Macau Racing Team Yamaha. In June, Fernandes won two races at the Zhuhai International Circuit in the ZIC superbike event.

Making his Macau debut will be Briton Dan Linfoot, a 20-year-old star of the future who has already racked up experience in the European Superstock 600 Championship, winning the recent Magny Cours round in France. The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix will be Linfoot's first "real" road race, and the young driver says he is looking forward to enjoying the experience of racing on the highly-regarded Guia Circuit. He is entered by Rob Mac Racing on a 600cc Yamaha.

Two Macau riders will compete in the 600cc Supersport category. Sou Sio Hong and Leong Iok Choi will each ride Yamahas, while the sole Hong Kong entrant is Cheung Wai On, sixth in the category last year.

-credit: macau grand prix committee

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