Jamie Hamilton and Lee Johnston will get their first taste of Macau Grand Prix action on the Armco lined Guia Circuit in the Far East on November 17, but the big shock is the omission of the Dunlop brothers, Guy Martin and Cameron Donald from the entry list.
Hamilton will campaign the KMR Kawasaki he has ridden all year for Ryan Farquhar and Lee Johnston will also remain loyal to his sponsor, Ballymoney man Jimmy Murray, riding his MSR Ducati — although both machines will also carry local event sponsors’ livery for the event.
The pair have raced against each other since their formative years in the Irish Mini Moto Championship; both going on to win the 600cc National Superstock title in England 12 months apart before taking up road racing, which should add some friendly rivalry.
Hamilton said: “Lee and I have always come up against each other, so there will certainly be a bit of healthy competition between us, but as long as we’re both safe and enjoy the experience that’s all that matters.”
Both men are looking forward to joining fellow Northern Ireland riders Stephen Thompson and Davy Morgan on the trip, with Hamilton delighted to tick another box on his ‘to do’ list.
“I’m glad I’m going to be riding the KMR Kawasaki I’ve ridden all year,” he said.
“When you go road racing you have to look at all the road races on offer, and even though I know it’s a very dangerous circuit, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Unperturbed by the 12-hour flight and subsequent boat journey to get onto the special administrative region of China, Hamilton said: “I’ve never raced outside Europe, so it gives me a chance to see another part of the world.”
With eight wins between them, SMT Honda mounted Michael Rutter and John McGuinness will start favourites at the event, with Conor Cummins on the sole Tyco Suzuki and Gary Johnson partnering Irishman Steve Heneghan in the Quattro Plant Honda team.
Simon Andrews, who has recently returned to action after a horror crash at this year’s Isle of Man TT, will ride an Ice Valley BMW and fellow British championship rider James Hillier aboard a Bournemouth Kawasaki.
American Mark Miller and Aussie Dave Johnson will ride the Splitlath Redmond Aprilias with Steve Mercer on a Stephen Thompson sponsored T&R Motorsport Honda.