Following a generally dispiriting 2008 campaign, VK Vent Axia Honda ace John McGuinness secured a confidence-inspiring third place for Paul Bird Motorsport as he rode to yet another rostrum finish in the Macau Grand Prix.
The Morecambe-born star triumphed around the tortuous streets of the Portuguese enclave for the team back in 2001, and has been a regular podium finisher ever since at the 6.12km Circuito Da Guia.
On the back of a less-than-successful season on the British short circuits, however, the 14-time TT winner needed a good result to take him through the winter – and, as he followed debut winner Stuart Easton and six-time champion Michael Rutter home, that's exactly what he produced.
“I needed a good, safe ride and that's exactly what I got,” the 36-year-old related of his distant third position at the chequered flag, “and I'm reasonably happy with yet another Macau podium. I've enjoyed riding the bike and it's always a pleasure being involved with Birdy and the boys.
“I couldn't stay with Stuart and Michael, but I'm happy enough with the result which is what we came for, and now I can start to concentrate on next season.”
Making it a superb day for the squad was Mike Barnes, who brought the second of the Phil Borley-prepared Honda Fireblades home an impressive fifth, just eight seconds behind McGuinness and a scant two hundredths adrift of fourth-placed Luis Carrera. It was the American's best result since his fourth spot back in 1993, meaning the Macau veteran added to the team's cause for celebration.
“I took it easy to start off with as the track was quite slippery early on,” recounted the Floridian, “and I just kept plugging away. I played it safe and put in some good laps, and I'm delighted with fifth position. I really have enjoyed the entire game; this team is something else and I've had a hoot!”
“It's our best result of the season!” enthused team owner Paul Bird. “Both John and Mike rode well and I'm delighted with the result. We came to do a holiday race, with no dramas and keeping it safe, and that's how it turned out.
“John needed a good result and he got that, and Barney has been wonderful to work with so it's just what we needed at the end of a tough season.”