Belfast Telegraph

Was 12,000 mile journey worth one lap win for Rutter?

 

Short work: Michael Rutter on his way to victory in Macau
Short work: Michael Rutter on his way to victory in Macau

By Roy Harris

Veteran Michael Rutter was awarded victory in the 53rd Suncity Macau Grand Prix on Saturday in somewhat exceptional circumstances after two red-flag incidents with the result declared after just a single lap.

The original 12-lap race began with pole setter Peter Hickman doing what was expected - storming the first two laps to lead Rutter by seven-seconds with David Johnson, Lee Johnston and Davey Todd in hot pursuit.

23-time TT winner John McGuinness was already out, his PBM Ducati V4 Panigale developing a problem on the warm-up lap.

On lap four, with Hickman in control, the red flags came out when Rob Hodson crashed at the Esses and Marek Cerveny could not avoid the fallen machine. Unhurt, the pair returned to the paddock on the recovery truck.

Organisers declared a new 8-lap race and this time Rutter was first out of the blocks and led Hickman by three-tenths of a second at the end of lap one with the MGM by Bathams BMW of Hicky overtaking his team mate on the exotic MGM by Bathams Honda RC213V on the brakes into Lisboa to quickly started to open a gap on lap two.

A few moments later, the red flags were out again after six riders, Emo Kostamo, Derek Sheils, Didier Grams, Michael Sweeney, Phil Crowe and Dan Kruger, were involved in a massive crash at a blind right hand corner.

Three of the riders, Kostamo, Sheils and Kruger, were taken to hospital with Burrows Engineering /RK Racing rider Sheils and Canadian Kruger later discharged while Kostamo suffered fractures. The other three riders were miraculously unscathed

Recovery and clean-up time left no opportunity to restart the race for a second time with the regulations dictating the result must be declared based on the single lap of the second race giving Rutter a record ninth Macau win from Hickman by 0.298secs, David Johnson a further half second back in third Todd fourth. Fermanagh's Lee Johnston was fifth and Ian Hutchinson sixth.

So, a 1-2 for the MGM by Bathams Team, but probably not in the order they envisaged.

Ashcourt Racing's Johnston said: "My first thoughts are with the riders who tipped off and I wish them a speedy recovery. It's a bit odd to have a race result declared after just one lap, although the result is probably immaterial at the end of the day. I was disappointed to be fifth, as I thought a fourth or even a podium was on the cards. This was my first run on the 2019 BMW and the changes we made over the first day paid dividends. It all bodes well for next year."

The question must be asked, though after, for most riders, a 12,000 miles return trip for what turned out to be a one lap race. Is it really worth the effort when the bikes play second fiddle to the four-wheel, 2-day festival of racing on the Far East territory?

What a sensation it would be to see and hear John McGuinness on the PBM Ducati V4 Panigale in action at the North West 200 and TT next year - it could very well happen.

World champion Marc Marquez ended the 2019 MotoGP season at Valencia yesterday by taking his 12th win of the season and becoming the first rider to break the 400-point barrier (420) for the year. He took eight laps to ease past Jack Miller and race leader Fabio Quartararo, but once in front he controlled the race, winning by just over a second from the Frenchman and Miller.

Jorge Lorenzo ended his final race after announcing his retirement from a sensational career that included five world championships down in 13th position while Britains Cal Crutchlow crashed out.

With Lorenzo's retirement, speculation is mounting that Alex Marquez, Marc's brother and Moto2 world champion, will join him at Repsol Honda for 2020.

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