Englishman Peter Hickman produced a ride for the ages as the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix celebrated its 50th edition on Saturday, waiting patiently for his chance and then grabbing it – and his second consecutive victory in the prestigious road race — in a flash.
“It’s one of the hardest races I’ve ever done,” was the 29-year-old’s immediate reaction.
The Bathams/SMT Racing BMW rider had for the majority of the 12-lap race been content to let the leading trio of Martin Jessopp, Michael Rutter and Glenn Irwin fight it out across Macau’s 6.12-kilometer Guia Circuit.
Hickman said before the event that he thought his BMW would have more power at the death, and that his tires, too, would survive the wear and tear that can often end a rider’s hopes around this street circuit.
It all went exactly to plan as a slip up by Jessopp on his Rider Motorcycles BMW, a loss of power from Irwin’s Be Wiser Ducati and then an brilliant inside passing move with a lap and a half to go saw Hickman take the lead from teammate Rutter – and hold it through the checkered flag.
“What a hard race that was,” said Hickman. “I knew I would be strong at the end. I got away fast and was hoping they’d start to come backward about halfway through the race. They didn’t and I really had to dig in.”
The Macau event brings the international road racing season to an end each year and is widely acknowledged as one of the hardest races to win, given the tricky street circuit and the often stifling humidity.
“To get this team together and to have two of us on the podium has been a great effort by all involved and I am just thrilled to bits to win here again,” said Hickman.
The beaten brigade took the loss well considering Jessopp had looked a certain winner until he slipped out of gear with three laps remaining. Rutter then took the lead and looked good for a ninth victory in the event.
“I was going into Lisboa, I went for the gear and there was just nothing there,” said Jessopp. “I was trying to change down, up – nothing. So I just coasted into the corner with no brakes, which was pretty scary. I started to pull over and as I slowed down it fired back into life.
“I put everything I had into the last lap and a half but I just wasn’t good enough. It was tough but it’s no excuse. I think they would have got past me anyway.”
Rutter meanwhile said Hickman had produced the “perfect ride.”
Action returns to the streets here on Sunday with the staging of two events that have FIA World Cup status – the Formula Three Macau Grand Prix and the Macau GT Cup.