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Peter Hickman claims victoroy in Macau Grand Prix for second time in succession

Peter Hickman won the Macau Grand Prix on Saturday 
Willis Marshall

PETER HICKMAN claimed his second Macau Grand Prix victory in-a-row with a perfectly-executed move on the penultimate lap of the 50th running of the legendary race on Saturday.

It was a race that saw circuit newcomer Glenn Irwin narrowly miss out on a possible podium finish only to be ruled out after a machine problem in the closing stages of the race. The Bathams/SMT BMW rider pounced to snatch the lead from team-mate and eight-time winner Michael Rutter with a lap to go and hold on to win the Golden Jubilee meeting in the Far East by 
half-a-second.

Pole man Martin Jessopp had to settle for another podium finish on the Riders Motorcycles BMW as he made it a clean sweep of the top three for the German manufacturer. There was heartbreak for Carrick’s Irwin, who was forced out with a problem while running in third place on the PBM Ducati with a lap-and-a-half to go. Nonetheless, the event rookie left a big impression with a magnificent ride on the Panigale R on his first appearance at the race.

Rutter had taken the lead from the off and began to put the hammer down from Irwin with Jessopp tucked in behind. At the front, Rutter was trying to make a break for it and had opened a gap of 0.7 seconds when Jessopp moved into second place, passing Irwin on the brakes at Lisboa.

The Somerset rider quickly slashed Rutter’s advantage as he set the fastest lap of the race in 2m 24.931s on the S1000RR and began to make inroads into the leader. Hickman was now beginning to make his presence felt on the Bathams/SMT BMW and moved into third from Irwin at Lisboa.

On lap seven, Jessopp hit the front for the first time in the race but Rutter wasn’t prepared to go down without a fight and the 44-year-old reprised the lead on the next lap at Lisboa. As the pair fought it out, Hickman closed in to make it a three-way battle, with Irwin not far behind on the Ducati.

Jessopp tried his luck again and this time he opened a cushion of half-a-second over Rutter, who was trying to hold off Hickman. However, with three laps remaining, Jessopp hit trouble, allowing Rutter, Hickman and Irwin to pass the BMW rider, who was struggling with a reported gear-change issue.

Hickman took full advantage of the opportunity and produced a decisive pass on Rutter with one lap remaining, putting some daylight between himself to bag his second successive win at the 3.8-mile Guia course by half-a-second. Rutter made it a one-two for Robin Croft’s team, while the luckless Jessopp had to settle for third after applying pressure on Rutter for the runner-up spot.

Irwin was forced into the pits with a problem in a disappointing end to his Macau Grand Prix debut, but the 26-year-old rode a magnificent race. Outside the top three, Manx rider Conor Cummins was a safe fourth on the Honda Fireblade ahead of Horst Saiger (Kawasaki), who was able to take his place on the grid following a tumble during qualifying.

Four-time winner Stuart Easton made it three Bathams/SMT BMWs in the top six as he finished in front of John McGuinness (Honda Racing), passing the Morecambe man on the final lap. Tyco BMW’s Ian Hutchinson crossed the line in eighth after slipping backwards from fourth place on the final laps, while Dublin newcomer Derek Sheils (Cookstown BE Racing Suzuki) and Dan Copper completed the top 10.

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