The ‘Bingley Bullet’, Ian Hutchinson, took a sensational win on the Milwaukee Yamaha in the Macau Grand Prix in China yesterday to mark a fairytale return to road racing following serious injury.
34 year old Hutchinson overtook Michael Rutter (SMT Honda) on the fourth lap of the 3.8 mile Guia circuit and opened a two second gap that he maintained until the race was brought to a premature end on the 11th of 15 laps because of a crash involving Dean Harrison. Harrison was unhurt in the accident but his bike was lying in the track.
“I’ve always wanted to win the Macau Grand Prix but to win it now, after everything that has happened, is really special.” Hutchy said after emotional scenes greeted his victory.
The Yorkshire rider had become the first rider in history to win five TT races in a week in 2010 before he was involved in a horrific crash at a BSB meeting at Silverstone just three months later. Another bike ran over his leg as he lay on the ground and the injury was so serious that doctors initially feared he would have to have his left leg amputated.
Hutchy refused to accept that he would never ride again and after 29 operations and three years of immense pain he is now back to full fitness- and his winning ways.
“I always believed that this day would come.” he smiled after the race.
“It is three years since I won a race but I never, ever thought that it was the end of the road.”
The Milwaukee Yamaha rider had already signalled he meant business in Friday’s qualifying session by grabbing pole position from Macau expert, Michael Rutter. But he couldn’t convert that into a good start in Saturday’s race, dropping to fourth on the first lap.
“The Yamaha has a really tall first gear and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get off the line quick enough to lead but I stayed calm and picked off John McGuinness and Gary Johnson on the first couple of laps.” he explained.
Michael Rutter, going for his ninth Macau win on the same SMT Honda he had steered to victory in 2012, had already got past early leader Johnson on his Quattro Plant Kawasaki.
“I tried to open a gap on the boys behind but I saw from my pit boards that that wasn’t happening and when Ian came past I wasn’t surprised.” the Birmingham rider explained.
“He opened a massive gap on me straight away and I knew it was going to be a hard race. Although Ian had a better run with backmarkers when we caught them it wouldn’t have made any difference to the result, Ian deserved the win.”
Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson dropped back into a safe third spot, 8.7 seconds behind Rutter on the after losing ground when he had a big moment on the ZX10 at the terrifyingly fast Mandarin Bend.
“Coming out of Mandarin I got a really bad headshake with the bike and I thought there was something wrong with the steering damper so I eased off a bit.” he explained.
John McGuinness, having his last ride on the Honda TT Legends machine, trailed home 23 seconds further back in fourth spot and was the first person to congratulate Hutchy on his brilliant comeback.
“It is an absolute fairytale for Ian.” the 20 time TT winner paid tribute afterwards.
“I helped him to get his first ride at Macau back in 2005 and I know how hard it is to come back and win after an injury. Ian made us all look very average today and what he has done is simply phenomenal, there is no other word for it.”
Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston (East Coast Honda) was the best of the six Irish riders taking part in this year’s Macau Grand Prix, finishing in 9th spot just ahead of Stephen Thompson (BE Suzuki). Fellow Antrim man Jamie Hamilton was 14th on the VRS Kawasaki and newcomer Brian McCormack from Waterford was 23rd. Steve Heneghan (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) and Davy Morgan (CSC Suzuki) failed to finish.