Macau GP: Michael Rutter set for Honda RCV debut as stellar entry list announced

Michael Rutter is the most successful rider ever at the Macau Grand Prix, notching eight wins since his first in 1998.
Michael Rutter is the most successful rider ever at the Macau Grand Prix, notching eight wins since his first in 1998.

A stellar line-up has been confirmed for November’s 52nd running of the famous Suncity Group Macau Grand Prix in southern China.

All-time record-holder Michael Rutter will ride an exotic Honda RC213V-S machine in the new Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing livery.

Rutter is bidding for an unprecedented ninth victory around the Guia course, 20 years after his maiden triumph.

The Midlands rider is joined in the team by double winner Peter Hickman, who will ride a BMW S1000RR. Hickman, who sealed back-to-back triumphs in 2015 and 2016, set a new road racing world lap record in excess of 135mph on his way to victory in the Senior race at the Isle of Man TT in June.

The British Superbike rider will again line-up as the pre-race favourite, although the experienced Rutter – third last year – will be determined to give him a run for his money as he makes his race debut on the MotoGP-styled Honda.

Northern Ireland’s Glenn Irwin won at Macau for the first time in 2017 on the PBM Ducati under tragic circumstances, when the race was stopped due to a fatal accident involving English rider Dan Hegarty.

Irwin has decided not to compete at Macau this year, but TT legend John McGuinness and multiple Macau GP runner-up Martin Jessopp will lead the challenge for Paul Bird’s factory-supported Tak Chun Group by PBM Ducati team.

The duo have already tested the 1199 Panigale machine ahead of the event, with McGuinness returning to the Far East for the first time since 2016 after missing out last year through injury.

McGuinness won at Macau in 2001 and the Morecambe man was back on the top step at the Classic TT in August, where he won the Senior race on Roger Winfield’s Paton after making his comeback from injuries sustained in a serious crash at the North West 200 in 2017.

Lincolnshire’s Gary Johnson, sixth last year, returns on the Briggs Equipment Kawasaki, while Aussie David Johnson will a BMW for PR Racing.

Irish national road racing top gun Derek Sheils is joined in a three-man Penz13 BMW team backed by PuraGlobe Syntainics Racing Oil.

Road racing sensation Davey Todd, who was also teammates with Sheils in John Burrows’ B.E. Racing team this year, will make his debut at Macau. The trio is completed by former Grand Prix rider Danny Webb.

Skerries man Michael Sweeney will ride a BMW HP4 for Martin Jones Racing, while Saintfield’s Davy Morgan goes with his DM71 BMW.

Entries also include Horst Saiger, Didier Grams, Ben Wylie and Steve Heneghan, who will ride a Ducati Panigale V4.

The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix takes place from November 15-17.