39TH MACAU MOTORCYCLE GRAND PRIX - HOTEL FORTUNA
BUMPER FIELD FOR TWO-WHEEL THRILLER
As it approaches its landmark 40th birthday next year, Macau's two-wheel headline event will boast a sterling line-up of motorcycle experts from the four corners of the globe.
Coming to the Far East Classic and determined to equal the legendary Ron Haslam's record of six victories comes Macau favourite Michael Rutter on the 1000cc Red Bull Honda. A front-runner again this year in the British Superbike Championship, this will be the Briton's 11th visit to Macau.
Arch rival and fellow Briton John McGuinness, who led for much of last year's Grand Prix and finished second to Rutter by just half a second, will be looking to grab his second Macau career victory. McGuinness is also competing in the British Superbike Championship this year, and holds the absolute lap record at the Isle of Man TT. He will be on one of a pair of 1000cc Stobart Hondas, the other ridden by another well-known Macau regular and fellow countryman, 22-year-old Stuart Easton who finished third last year.
In addition to Rutter, McGuinness and Easton, the entry includes a strong British contingent in a field which boasts entries from 13 nations. Ian Lougher (1000cc Slingshot Racing Honda) making a 6th visit after missing the event last year, the British Superbike Championship's Steve Plater (1000cc Hydrex Honda), and Stephen Thompson on a MSS Discovery Racing Kawasaki will all line up for Saturday afternoon's 15-lap race.
From the BMW Motorrad PowerCup series come Thomas Hinterreiter of Austria on a 1000cc Austria Racing Team Yamaha, and Belgian Stephane Mertens on 1000cc DMR Suzuki.
Winner of the FIM 600cc Supersport Class last year on a Valmoto Triumph, 30- year-old Scotsman Callum Ramsay returns this year on a Klaffi Honda. Also entered in the Class are 2004 second and third-placed riders Cameron Donald of Australia and Chris Palmer. Fourth in the Class in his first ever ride in the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix last year, Hong Kong's Cheung Wai On returns after an eventful year which saw him win a wildcard entry in the Malaysian round of the 125cc MotoGP. New to Macau this year is Steve Crevier of Canada on a 1000cc Diablo Racing Honda. Crevier boasts the most race wins in Canadian history, and was runner up in the 2003 Canadian National Superbike Championship.
Also making their debuts on the daunting Guia Circuit will be: Briton Guy Martin on a BTS Racing Suzuki; Pere Riba of Spain on one of a pair of MSS Discovery Racing Kawasaki's in the 600cc Supersport Class, the other of which will be ridden by Scot Steve Allan; and Keith Stewart on a McKinstry Skip Hire Racing Yamaha.
From Portugal come three Guia Circuit rookies; Tiago Magalhaes on a Moto Marcelino Honda; Nuno Silva aboard the Kawasaki Portugal/Albufeira entry; and Antonio Moreira on the AG-Racing Aprilia.
Joao Fernandes, now living and working in Macau, will be competing for the 6th time, this year on a 600cc Macau Bikes Racing Team Yamaha.
Another rider making his debut this year will be Jason Broome. Although racing as a Hong Kong rider, Broome actually lives and works in Macau.
Heading the list of Macau entries is Sou Se Hong on a 1000cc Suzuki entered by a home-grown outfit, Ao's Racing Team owned by local touring car ace Ao Chi Hong. Sou's team mate will be Leong Lok Choi, also on a Suzuki, while Wong Man Kwong will be on a privately-entered 750cc Suzuki.
And keeping the Grand Prix crowds up-to-date on the action this year for the first time ever will be former Macau competitor and World Championship rider, Steve Parrish. Parrish became a professional rider in 1976, joining Barry Sheen in the Suzuki Grand Prix team in 1977 and finishing fifth in the 500cc World Championship. In 1978, he won the British GT Championship, before claiming the British Superbike Championship in 1981. In Macau, he finished 2nd on no fewer than three occasions - in 1978, 79 and 80.
He retired from motorcycle racing in 1986, but has spent the last 13 years truck racing, earning five European titles. Having finally retired from all kinds of competitive racing, he has been concentrating on his commentary role.