Glenn Irwin 'ready' to return to Macau Grand Prix three years on from crash tragedy

Glenn Irwin says he is willing to return to the famous Macau Grand Prix over three years on from his maiden victory at the famous race, which was marred by tragedy.

By Kyle White
Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 6:37 pm
A visibly upset Glenn Irwin tours into pit lane at the 2017 Macau Grand Prix following a fatal accident that claimed the life of English rider Dan Hegarty.
A visibly upset Glenn Irwin tours into pit lane at the 2017 Macau Grand Prix following a fatal accident that claimed the life of English rider Dan Hegarty.

The Carrickfergus man was declared the winner of the 51st edition of the motorcycle race at the Guia street course in 2017, which was halted after Nottingham’s Dan Hegarty was involved in a fatal accident at Fisherman’s on lap six.

It was a bittersweet triumph for Irwin and the PBM Be Wiser Ducati team, who was leading Peter Hickman by 1.1 seconds when the red flag went out on lap seven of the scheduled 12-lap distance.

The Ulster rider, who became the first Northern Ireland rider since Phillip McCallen in 1996 to win at Macau, later ruled himself out of returning to compete at the event.

However, the Honda Racing British Superbike contender, who made his Macau debut in 2016, says he would now consider racing in Macau once more.

In a recent interview with the News Letter, the 30-year-old said: “I’ve had no negotiations with the team about going to Macau but I’m probably more open now to going back.

“What I said before was not said in the heat of the moment, but what we saw that day was horrendous and at that point and afterwards, I wasn’t prepared to go back and race at Macau.

“But safety improvements have been made and good people are involved – Stuart Higgs (BSB Series and Event Director) and Mervyn Whyte (former NW200 Event Director) are involved in it and I feel ready to go back there now.

“I loved the event and the track, and it’s a fantastic experience overall. I don’t have great memories of the last time I was there but I’ve been able to move on from that and if the opportunity was there, then it’s something I’m open to.”

Irwin is a four-time Superbike winner at the North West 200 and was set to make his Isle of Man TT debut last year, although his belated Mountain Course bow is now on hold until 2022 after the event was cancelled for the second successive year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A revised Macau Grand Prix went ahead in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, although the motorcycle race did not run due primarily to a lack of entries, with many riders unwilling to undergo a compulsory two-week quarantine in a designated hotel upon arrival in Macau.

The event takes place annually in mid-November in the former Portuguese colony where the motorcycle race was first held in 1967.

Michael Rutter is the most successful rider ever at Macau with nine victories, the most recent of which he achieved in controversial circumstances in 2019 when the result was declared following one lap after a red-flag incident.

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