Scottish rider Stuart Easton, a podium finisher at the North West 200 last year, cruised to his third successive Macau Grand Prix victory in the Far East on Saturday morning after an early race battle with six-time Macau winner and pole position man Michael Rutter.
Riding a Paul Bird Motorsport WSB Kawasaki for the first time, 27-year-old Easton from Hawick was being chased hard by Rutter early in the race only to see the red flags bring proceedings to a halt after six laps following a crash involving Canadian rider Chris Perris, who was detained in hospital overnight with concussion and other minor injuries.
On the nine lap restart Easton tried to make a break opening up a two-second lead in the opening laps, but Rutter closed the gap on his younger rival mid-race to less than a second and looked set to mount a serious challenge, but Easton upped his pace with a new lap record of 95.32mph on lap seven to open up a two-second gap, which he extended in the closing stages taking the chequered flag almost 11 seconds ahead of the Team Paris AXA Ducati rider.
After his emphatic victory around the 3.8mile Guia Circuit Easton, who will ride in the BSB championship for MSS Colchester Kawasaki in 2011, said: “When I saw Michael had caught up with me I was devastated because I put so much effort into trying to break free in the first three laps.
“I thought there was no way I could hold him off, but I tried again and managed to put a bit more daylight between us in the closing laps.
“I’m over the moon to have won this race for the third year in a row and the team gave me the perfect bike to do the job today.”
The fight for the final rostrum place was decided on the final pulsating lap.
American Jeremy Toye (BMW) grabbed a dramatic third place, fourteen seconds behind Rutter, within sight of the chequered flag from Simon Andrews whose MSS Colchester Kawasaki struck mechanical gremlins in the closing laps of the race when seemingly assured of the final step on the podium.
Gary Johnson was fifth eight seconds behind Andrews with 15-times TT winner John McGuinness sixth.
James Storrar was seventh while Relentless Suzuki by TAS rider Cameron Donald finished eighth ahead of James McBride with Scotsman Keith Amor completing the top ten.
Stephen Thompson from Crumlin was forced out of the race, his MSS Colchester Kawasaki suffering a blown engine on the third lap whilst dicing for eighth position.