Ageless Hofmann aiming for maiden win

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 November, 1997, 12:00am

Veteran Swiss rider Andy Hofmann today attempts to become the oldest man in history to win the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix after snatching pole position in rip-roaring fashion yesterday.

Hofmann has made his age a secret and is officially listed as being 39 years old although sources said his age was closer to 45. But he will be hoping to teach his younger rivals a lesson in only his third race of the entire season when the 31st edition of the Macau event gets underway today.

The three-time German Superbike champion, who snatched provisional pole position in Thursday's practice, swept round the 6.2-kilometre Guia circuit astride his Kawasaki 750cc in two minutes, 32.885 seconds, which was unofficially inside Mike Edwards' lap record time of 2:33.07, in yesterday's second and final qualifying session.

Hofmann, who is racing for Kawasaki Switzerland, is currently winding down his long and illustrious career. It is normal practice for older riders to say they are younger in order to attract sponsorship.

For Hofmann, it will be his third attempt at the prestigious Macau title, but he is expected to find plenty of opposition in Englishmen Michael Rutter, 25, who was second fastest during qualifying in his Honda RS500 V-twin Grand Prix machine and Ian Simpson, who was third fastest in his Groundwork SE Ducati.

Macau veteran Roger Bennett, the flying Scotsman who finished second in last year's race, returns for another crack at the title in his Suzuki 750cc. He secured a place on the front row although it might be an uphill battle after finding himself 3.182 seconds slower than Hofmann.

Rutter, who is competing in a 500cc bike for the first time in Macau, was 1.452 seconds slower than Hofmann, who is favourite for today's 15-lap race.

'I'll try my best to win,' said Hofmann, who took part in two rounds of this year's German Superbike Championship, finishing sixth and fifth respectively.

'I don't know how good I am going to be against my younger rivals but I intend to give it my best shot,' said the big Swiss rider, who raced in Germany for 'fun' and who finished third in Macau in his best finish in 1995.

Simpson would love to win after making a comeback from a serious foot injury in Donington in September.