Ian Hutchinson made the perfect racing comeback at the 47th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, returning from 18 months on the sidelines to take victory around the Guia Circuit.
Starting from pole, Hutchinson dropped to fourth on the approach to the tight Lisboa corner, but immediately started charging his way back through the field. He made light work of John McGuinness and Gary Johnson, before hunting down pre-race favourite Michael Rutter.
Hutchinson regained the lead at the final corner of the fifth lap, never looking back as he stormed to an emotional victory.
“It’s probably one of the most special wins I’ve ever had with what’s gone on in the last few years, but hopefully now I can move on to carrying on back where I left off three years ago,” said Hutchinson. “I had about 10 plans of what to do whatever situation happened before the race, and I didn’t really have a plan for the one that did happen but I knew that once Michael got past Gary I needed to get past Gary and to go with it. I got past on the same lap and worked away. I’d rather have stayed behind Michael for a few more laps to be honest as the laps just got faster. I took the lead and just put the hammer down for a few laps to see where we were at. Michael came with me and I didn’t really expect to pull away from him massively, and I think he was a little bit unlucky with the backmarkers.”
Rutter could do nothing to stop Hutchinson’s masterful ride, with a red flag after 13 laps denying him the chance to hunt down a record-breaking ninth victory at the Macau Grand Prix, although the race was always in Hutchinson’s hands. “It’s definitely one of toughest races I’ve had here,” offered Rutter. “I tried as hard as I could. I led for a bit and tried to make a bit of a gap, but wasn’t surprised when he came past. I thought I’d just try and hang on the back of him and he just pulled a massive gap. I thought ‘this is going to be a bit of a fun race’, and I’d get my head down and try and start catching him. I made up a bit of ground but to be fair to Ian, he looked dead smooth. I made a bit and lost a bit and tried as hard as I could.”
Gary Johnson rounded out the top three, taking his first ever Macau podium, while John McGuinness slipped back to fourth at the finish line despite leading into Lisboa on the opening lap. Lee Johnston, who was the fastest newcomer in qualifying, ended the race as the highest placed newcomers, taking a solid ninth place at the finish line.