15 November 2014
Easton decimates opposition to win Macau Grand Prix
PBM Kawasaki's Stuart Easton leads from start to finish to win the 48th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix by 14 seconds from Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp
Stuart Easton decimated the opposition as the Scottish rider dominated the 48th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix from start to finish.
It was a glorious return to the Far East for the PBM Kawasaki star, who was making his first visit to Macau since his previous success at the 3.8-mile Guia street circuit in 2010.
Easton, though, seemed liked he had never been away as he produced an all-conquering performance on the ZX-10R to win by a huge 14 seconds from eight-time winner Michael Rutter on the Milwaukee Yamaha, who had to dig deep to hold off a strong challenge from Yeovil's Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW).
Lincolnshire's Gary Johnson also shone on his return to action following his crash in the Superstock race at the Isle of Man TT in June, with the Quattro Plant Honda rider involved in the battle for the rostrum places before settling for fourth.
Northern Ireland's Lee Johnston (Pirtek Pro Bolt Honda) had enjoyed a spell in second place on the opening laps and battled with Rutter for the runner-up spot before dropping off the pace on the last few laps as Johnson and Jessopp hauled themselves into contention.
It was a race to forget though for last year's winner Ian Hutchinson, who overshot at Lisboa on the opening lap before sliding off on lap two as the defence of his title ended disappointingly for the Yorkshire rider.
Austrian Horst Saiger finished sixth behind Johnston on his Kawasaki with Morecambe's John McGuinness (Pirtek Pro Bolt Honda) coming home in seventh position, half a minute seconds behind Easton, who was celebrating his fourth Superbike victory at Macau.
Easton made a flying start from pole position to take up the running and never looked back, with Johnston making the most of his front row start to slot into second place ahead of the fast-starting Horst Saiger with Rutter in hot pursuit on the YZF-R1.
Hutchinson went straight on at Lisboa to effectively end his chances of victory and his misery was compounded when he slid off the PBM Kawasaki on lap two.
At the end of lap two Easton had already opened a gap of 0.582s over Johnston and Rutter, who had both managed to find a way past Saiger.
With Easton easing away at the front by a three-and-a-half seconds by lap four, the battle was on for second between Johnston and Rutter, with the Macau specialist eventually getting his nose in front of the 25-year-old.
Johnston, though, wasn't to be deterred and Rutter was unable to break away in second place as the pair continued to lap Macau in unison, although Gary Johnson was now on the move in fourth place as he went head to head with Jessopp as Saiger dropped to sixth.
At the half-way point of the six-lap race Easton now held a commanding lead of 11.592s over Rutter and Johnston, with English star Johnson visibly reducing the deficit in fourth place as he battled to stay ahead of Jessopp.
On the next lap, Johnson was looking threatening in fourth place as he joined the fight for second place along with Jessopp.
Sensing his podium chances were under threat, Irishman Johnston took the bull by the horns with an excellent move on the brakes on Rutter into Melco hairpin to move back into second place.
Jessopp then moved into fourth behind Rutter, but the Milwaukee Yamaha rider quickly hit back to retake the position at Lisboa as Johnson now found himself in fifth.
Easton now led by 17.777s with two laps remaining from Rutter, who forced his way back into the runner-up spot ahead of Johnston, now demoted to fourth on lap 10 after also losing a place to Jessopp.
Quattro Plant Honda's Johnson then gained a place at the hairpin as Johnston was now pushed back to fifth, where he would remain until the end of the race as the 25-year-old drastically dropped off the pace with apparent tyre problems.
Jessopp was refusing to lie down and moved ahead of Rutter at the penultimate corner on lap 11 but the Yamaha rider used his braking prowess to respond in kind at Lisboa once again.
With Easton in total control at the front, all eyes were on the battle for second place on the last lap but Rutter put his Macau experience to good use to keep Jessopp at bay as he held on for second, with Johnson fourth on his return from injury.
Lee Johnston crossed the line in fifth, 1.2s second down on Johnson, with Saiger, McGuinness and Dan Cooper the top eight.
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