50 years of the amaz­ing Ma­cau GP

This week­end sees the 50th run­ning of one of the world’s most dan­ger­ous and mys­te­ri­ous races – and Bri­tish rid­ers just can’t get enough of it

Motorcycle News (UK) - - In This Week's Issue - By Stephen Dav­i­son ROAD RAC­ING RE­PORTER

When for­mer Ma­cau Grand Prix cham­pi­ons Michael Rut­ter, John Mcguin­ness, Stu­art Eas­ton, Ian Hutchin­son and last year’s win­ner Peter Hick­man line up for the 2016 race they will be cel­e­brat­ing 50 years of bike rac­ing on the streets of the Chi­nese city.

In 1967 Ja­panese rider Hiroshi Hasegawa was the win­ner of the first mo­tor­cy­cle GP held on the 3.8-mile Guia cir­cuit, in the for­mer Por­tuguese colony fa­mous for its casi­nos and gam­bling. Hasegawa rode a 250cc Yamaha, but eight-time Ma­cau win­ner Rut­ter and his 2016 ri­vals will be rac­ing sta­teof-the-art su­per­bikes on the ter­ri­fy­ing Armco-lined streets that are nor­mally choked with com­muter traf­fic.

“Ma­cau is just like a Bri­tish Su­per­bike cir­cuit – only with bar­ri­ers around it,” says 2001 win­ner John Mcguin­ness.

With a com­plete ab­sence of run-off or gravel traps, Ma­cau is no­to­ri­ously dan­ger­ous and un­for­giv­ing. Only a few foam mat­tresses strapped to the bar­ri­ers at some of the slower corners of­fer any pro­tec­tion, but that has not stopped the world’s top road rac­ers from com­pet­ing in the end-of-sea­son event over the last five decades.

Ron Haslam won six Ma­cau GPS, while fel­low Brits Chas Mor­timer (the first Euro­pean win­ner in 1976), Mick Grant, Robert Dun­lop, Steve His­lop, Carl Fog­a­rty, Mike Ed­wards, Phillip Mc­callen, David Jefferies and Steve Plater have all been vic­to­ri­ous too.

For­mer Grand Prix stars Kevin Sch­wantz and Di­dier de Radiguès are among the other fa­mous names who have added Ma­cau suc­cess to their CV.

“Ma­cau is a nerve-rack­ing place be­cause of the dan­gers and be­cause you want to win, and that makes it dou­bly in­tense,” says four-time win­ner Stu­art Eas­ton. “But when you over­come that it feels ex­tra spe­cial.”

This year the en­try list is dom­i­nated by Bri­tish rid­ers, with 19 of the 28 starters from the UK. One of those is Bri­tish Su­per­bikes star Glenn Ir­win, who will be mak­ing his Ma­cau de­but on the Be Wiser/pbm Du­cati.

Josef Hage (3) leads from Bernard Mur­ray (19), Phil Hen­der­son (23) and Steve Hen­shaw (27) on the ap­proach to Lis­boa Bend in the 1980 Ma­cau GP. The race was won by Sadeo Asami (11)

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