Michael Rutter’s record-breaking seventh Macau GP win
Michael Rutter became the most successful rider in Macau Grand Prix history when he clinched a seventh victory on the Chinese street circuit on Sunday.
In spite of holding pole position, the 39-year-old Riders Ducati star had to overcome what he described as 'the toughest conditions I have ever known in Macau' to break the record of six wins that he shared with Ron Haslam.
Rutter previously won the race in 1998 and again in 2002 before enjoying an unbroken run of success from 2002 until 2005.
On a brilliant day for the Riders Ducati squad Martin Jessop surprised many by coming home second to his team leader but it was Swan Yamaha's Ian Hutchinson, in his first competitive outing since he smashed his leg in a horror crash at Silverstone in September 2010, who captured the hearts of the Chinese fans with a brilliant third.
Macau 2011 was dogged by bad weather that saw Thursday and Friday qualifying being abandoned and the race itself shifted to Sunday afternoon.
A series of crashes in the car races ran prior to the bike race left oil slicks at Lisboa and the fearsome 170mph Mandarin Bend and it was only agreed to race after a course inspection by Rutter and a series of warm up laps to let the field judge the extent of the danger.
'It looked horrendous but we all spoke about it and we wanted to race.' he explained. 'I thought that everyone would take it easy through the two spots but they all went like hell off the line and I ended up fourth on the first lap!'
Hutchinson got a flyer off the line and led for the opening two laps before Rutter eventually moved into a lead on lap three that he never looked likely to surrender.
Runner up Jessop trailed in 4.7 seconds behind his more experienced teammate with Hutchy a further two seconds in arrears.
Hutchy had to battle with a new right hand side gear shifter because he still doesn't have full movement in his left leg.
'This time last year I was in intensive care and five weeks ago I still had a fixator strapped to my leg so its great to be back racing again and this is a good start.' he reflected afterwards. 'To be honest I never think about the leg at all when I am on the bike.'
Brits continued to dominate at Macau with Gary Johnson (IGT Suzuki by TAS, 5th), John McGuinness (Roadhouse SMT Honda, 6th), James Storrar (DMR BMW, 7th) and Steve Mercer (Jentin Honda, 10th) all struggling with unfamiliar machinery against the rampant Rutter.
2010 podium finisher Jeremy Toye (IGT Kawasaki) ran in fourth and fellow American Michael Barnes (Attack Kawasaki) grabbed eighth from 2011 Supersport TT winner Bruce Anstey (Padgett's Honda) to fill out the top ten.
But it was Michael Rutter who controlled the race from the front. Will he be back at Macau to look for an eighth win?
'It is great to get the record with seven wins- I am going to go and ring Ron (Haslam) now,' he joked.
'I love this place, the whole Macau experience, and I want to come back and try to win again - if there is a race to ride in.'
1 Michael Rutter (Riders Ducati) 24:32.817, 92.59mph
2 Martin Jessop (Riders Ducati) +4.772s
3 Ian Hutchinson (Swan Yamaha) +6.847s
4 Jeremy Toye (IGT Kawasaki) +9.674s
5 Gary Johnson (IGT Suzuki by TAS) +14.13s
6 John McGuinness (Roadhouse SMT Honda) +14.31s
7 James Storrar (DMR BMW) +32.049s
8 Michael Barnes (Attack Kawasaki) + 36.894s
9.Bruce Anstey (Padgett's Honda) +39.384s
10. Steve Mercer (Jentin Honda) +41.713s
Fastest lap: Michael Rutter (Riders Ducati) 2:25.456, 94.11mph