Roads: Hickman wins Macau GP for the second year in a row
Peter Hickman has won the Macau Grand Prix for a second year in a row on the SMT/Bathams BMW.
In the 50th running of the Chinese race the Burton on Trent man kept his best to last, moving into the lead with just two laps to go and taking victory from SMT Bathams teammate Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp on the Riders Motorcycles BMW.
“What a hard race that was.” Hickman said after securing his double.
“It was one of the hardest races I’ve ever had and I had to dig really deep for the win.”
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Run in a steamy 28 degree heat, the early laps of the 12 lap event were dominated by eight times Macau winner, Michael Rutter with Martin Jessopp glued to his rear Metzeler. In a race that had been billed as a battle between the tyre manufacturers, Dunlop runner Hickman, who had qualified in a lowly seventh, had his hands full dealing with Macau rookie Glenn Irwin on the Be Wiser/PBM Ducati.
“Starting seventh wasn't ideal but I got away in fourth and I sat behind Glenn for a while.” he explained.
Hickman eventually moved in front of the 26 year old Northern Irishman on the fourth lap. Irwin was eventually forced to retire from third place after suffering an electrical issue with just two laps to go but not before he had made a huge impression on the established order of road racing .
Although Stuart Easton’s ouright lap record was not broken all four of the front men were lapping I the 2min 25 second bracket as Hickman continued his relentless progress towards the front.
“I put the head down then and chased after Martin and Michael.” he said.
Jessopp, who had started from pole position for the second year in a row and had moved into the lead on lap 8, lost a lot of ground on the SMT/Bathams pair of Rutetr and Hickman when he hit a false neutral under braking into Lisboa two laps later.
Hickman made his pass on Rutter at the same corner on the next circuit.
“I was strong through Mandarin, the fast corner before, and I got a bit of a slingshot effect down into Lisboa.” Hickman said.
“The four of us at the front were pushing really hard and in the end, although I had the lead, I didn’t break them but held them off to win.”
Veteran Rutter tried everything to get back in front on the last lap.
“It was a brilliant race from the start and I pushed hard all the way.” the 44 year old said.
“I was right behind Peter on the exit of Mandarin on the last lap but the bike was just spinning up a little bit too much and although I thought about making a lunge at Lisboa I didn't want to send the both of us up the slip road.”
Jessopp, who closed the gap to the leaders on the final lap, was disappointed to being finishing on the podium but missing out on the top step for a fourth time.
“I think I’ve had a third and three seconds at Macau and I am gutted not to win.” he smiled ruefully after the race.
“I did everything I could today. I was comfortable at the pace but I couldn’t do anything about the gearbox problem I had and that cost me any chance of a win.”
But the race belonged to Peter Hickman who had not sat on a BMW since his 2015 victory in Macau on the RAF Reserves/Briggs S1000RR. Not only did the 29 year old win his second Macau GP in a row but he also gave Dunlop victory in the tyre battle over Metzeler who filled the rest of the podium.
Conor Cummins, another Dunlop runner, finished fourth over 20 seconds behind.
A very sore Horst Saiger was the first non-Brit home in fifth after a crash in Friday qualifying at Lisboa and four times winner Stuart Easton pipped John McGuinness (Honda) for the final top six placing.
Ian Hutchinson, who lost all of his electronic aids on his Tyco BMW on the warm up lap, struggled home in seventh.
Glenn Irwin’s retirement left Derek Sheils (Burrows Suzuki) as the best newcomer and Dan Cooper rounded out the top ten on the CMS BMW.