Rutter heads 2012 Macau Motorcycle GP entry list
10 October 2012
31 riders from 13 different nations and territories will contest the 46th running of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix from November 15-18.
Having cemented his place in the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix history books by taking an historic seventh victory in 2011, the undisputed Two-Wheel King of Macau, Michael Rutter, will be back this year and on the hunt for an eighth win.
The Briton will join fellow countryman and winner at Macau in 2001, John McGuinness, on a pair of SMT Racing Honda 1000cc machines.
McGuinness, second quickest in qualifying last year behind Rutter but only sixth across the line, is the reigning outright lap record holder on the Isle of Man TT course and winner of the 2012 Joey Dunlop TT Championship Trophy.
He is also currently fourth in the FIM Endurance World Championship, in the Honda Legends team with former Macau rider Cameron Donald. Another leading endurance competitor, Horst Saiger of Austria, will be back in Macau this year with Saiger-Racing.com .
Martin Jessopp, who impressed with his second place finish last year, is back with Rider's Motorcycles.com on a Ducati 1200cc.
Jessopp, 27, has been contesting the FIM Supersport World Championship this season, but was handicapped by two shoulder injuries, one of which was a broken collarbone sustained in May's North West 200, in as many weeks.
Another returnee to Macau is Isle of Man rider Conor Cummins, 26. Cummins was also injured at the North West 200 earlier this year and, as a result of this – and the cancellation of the Senior TT due to weather conditions – he was unable to race there. Second at Macau in 2009, Cummins is entered on a Tyco Suzuki 1000cc this year.
Making his fifth visit to Macau is Briton Gary Johnson, this year teaming up with Guia Circuit rookie and fellow Metzeler National Superstock 1000 regular Steve Heneghan on the Quattro Plant Motorsports team. The pair will ride Honda and Kawasaki bikes respectively, and Irishman Heneghan hopes to benefit from Johnson's experience of the demanding street circuit.
Amongst the crop of newcomers to Macau are exciting road racing talent Lee Johnston, 28, making his debut along with RPM Performance team mate Jamie Hamilton.
Johnston impressed on his Isle of Man TT debut earlier this year, but really marked himself out as a potential star of the roads at the Ulster GP where he won the National and Challenge races, before finishing an impressive third in the Supersport race.
Twenty-one-year-old Hamilton, meanwhile, was the leading Isle of Man TT newcomer this year and has just completed a successful Irish road racing season.
From the USA comes perennial Macau favourite Mark Miller, this year aboard a Splitlath Redmond Aprilia, with fellow American Brandon Cretu, 27, making his Guia Circuit debut on a Hel Performance Honda.
Cretu is the youngest American rider ever to compete at Isle of Man, and has contested WERA Endurance championships in the US. Joining Miller on the Splitlath Redmond team is David Johnson of Australia.
Amongst the truly international field are newcomers Italian Stefano Bonetti, third in the Isle of Man TT Privateers Championship, Japanese rider Yoshinari Matsuhita and Brazilian Rafael Paschoalin. Paschoalin, from Sao Paulo, won the 2008 Brazilian Supermoto Championship, and the 500 Miles of Interlagos in 2009. This year, he was runner up at Interlagos..
From Portugal come Macau regulars Nuno Caetano on a KS Team of Portugal Suzuki, Luis Carreira with Benimoto/Rider/Cetelem, also on board a Suzuki, and Fernando Costa on a Pon Pone Squadra Ducati.
Closer to home, flying the flag for Macau will be Joao Fernandes, partnering German Rico Penzkofer at Penz 13 on a pair of BMWs, and Sou Sio Hong on a Honda.
A new Team Trophy award has also been introduced for this year. Teams with two riders are eligible to enter, with each rider receiving points in an increasing scale, with one point for the top finishing rider.
The team which collects the least number of points from both riders combined wins a trophy and prize monies.
Six manufacturers are represented in this year's entry, and for the first time a three-in-a-row grid format, as used in MotoGP, will be adopted in place of the previous four.
The intention of the new format is to stretch the grid as the riders head into the fast left-hander at Reservoir, and to allow safer passage through the fast right Mandarin Oriental Bend before heading down to the famous Lisboa Bend.
For the third year, the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix will also be the season finale for the Duke Road Race Rankings, a series which recognizes season-long performance on the world's premier road circuits.