Peter Hickman’s stock continues to rise after the Louth rider showcased his natural talent for road racing with a sensational victory in the 49th Suncity Group Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix on Saturday.
Hickman has proved a revelation since he made the transition to international road racing, becoming the fastest ever newcomer in history at the Isle of Man TT in 2014 with a lap of 129.104mph.
The 28-year-old from Louth in England made his big breakthrough with a victory in the damp second Superbike race at the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod in August in only his second appearance at the world’s fastest road race.
On Saturday, Hickman added another prized success to his record, overhauling long-time race leader and pole man Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles) before making his move on the brakes at Lisboa with four laps remaining.
The Briggs BMW rider quickly pulled away from Jessopp and put the race to bed in devastating fashion, opening a cushion of more than six seconds in the final quarter of the race to earn his first triumph at the challenging 3.8-mile Guia street.
Michael Rutter, the most successful rider ever at Macau with eight wins, completed the podium places in third but was more than 15 seconds behind on the Penz13.com BMW S1000RR.
Hickman – who was having his final ride on the Briggs BMW before switching to the GBmoto Racing team to ride factory-supported Kawasaki ZX-10R machinery in 2016 – said his decision to run a harder tyre compound enabled him to finish the race strongly compared to Jessopp, who had opted for softer rubber.
“We all knew from the qualifying and practices that Martin [Jessopp] was really strong and the pace that he had compared to everyone else seemed too much, to be quite honest,” Hickman said.
“I was on the Dunlop tyres and [Jessopp and Rutter] are on different tyres, so we knew that we were going to be strong for the second half of the race.
“I figured that Martin was going to pull away in the first five or six laps and then hopefully we’d come back to him. Martin put in such a fast lap [at the beginning].
“I thought, ‘I just need to be clean, don’t make any mistakes and just be as fast as I can’. As soon as I had a chance, I was close enough at Lisboa and I passed him straight away. Fortunately the plan worked.”
Hickman made his debut at the event in 2014 but a crash in qualifying ruled him out of the actual race due to the damage sustained to his BMW and denied him the benefit of more track time.
However, it mattered little to the British Superbike contender, who triumphed over the odds against his more experienced rivals.
“It feels absolutely fantastic! This is only my second time in Macau,” said Hickman, who qualified on the front row in third.
“I’ve not been doing the road racing scene for very long, but my British Superbike championships have been pretty strong the last couple of years. It’s fantastic to be able to transfer between the two.”
Behind the top three, Honda Racing’s John McGuinness crossed the line in fourth after making the pass of the race when he rode around the outside of Gary Johnson (Penz13.com BMW) on the final lap.
Ian Hutchinson dropped back to sixth on the PBM Kawasaki in the closing stages after running in third, with the Bingley Bullet also having his final outing on the Paul Bird machine as he prepares to join Ulster’s Tyco BMW squad for next season.
Manxman Conor Cummins (Honda Racing) and Horst Saiger (Kawasaki) completed the first eight, while Lee Johnston on the East Coast BMW was Northern Ireland’s leading rider in ninth position.
Aussie David Johnson on the Ice Valley BMW was tenth overall, while Waterford’s Brian McCormack finished 16th on the TAG Racing Honda.
Last year’s winner Stuart Easton failed to finish after retiring on the SMT Yamaha R1 with a technical issue.
The Hawick rider was having his first competitive ride since a crash in the British Superbike round at Brands Hatch in July forced him to miss the second half of the season.