'Clueless' Rutter hopes for seventh victory
Record-chasing Michael Rutter is well versed in what it takes to win in Macau, but he revealed he was clueless as he bids to beat hot favourite Stuart Easton and become the most successful rider in the history of the Motorcycle Grand Prix.
'I haven't got a clue where I should make a move [against Easton],' said six-time champion Rutter when asked what his strategy would be for today's 43rd edition of the two-wheeled showpiece.
Scotland's Easton, the defending champion, is the favourite to win again this year, and he underlined his strong credentials by grabbing pole position on a Hydrek IGT Honda 1000 for this afternoon's 15-lap race on the 6.2-kilometre Guia circuit.
But Rutter has not given up hope of an against-the-odds win, which would see him overtake Ron 'Rocket' Haslam as the rider with the most victories in Macau.
'It is never easy, especially with so many young lads like Easton around,' Rutter said after he had claimed third place on the grid. 'But anything can happen in racing and you always give yourself a chance.'
The 37-year-old Englishman added that Easton 'is the favourite and is going well, but all the pressure will be on him. He won last year and he has to do it all over again. There won't be any pressure on me.'
But that is simplifying things, for Rutter is desperate to score a famous seventh victory. He is not getting any younger and as the years roll by, it is harder to get a regular ride, and bike, with one of the established teams.
The last of Rutter's six wins in Macau was in 2005. Last year Easton relegated him to second. Soon after that race, Rutter discovered he would be without a regular ride for 2009, and it has proved to be a struggle as he has gone from bike to bike.
The results have also been discouraging. He finished 16th in the British Superbike Championship and 21st on the Isle of Man TT among other lowly placings in other series.
He comes to Macau on another unfamiliar bike, a Kawasaki 1000, and will race for the Team of Paris-AXA. He did well to grab third on the grid based on his times during the first qualifying session on Thursday. Rutter's efforts to go faster yesterday were stymied by the unfamiliar bike misfiring.
'It is nice to be on the same bike and with the same team. I'm at a slight disadvantage against Easton, who has been riding all year on the same bike.'
Meanwhile, life is all roses for Easton. Soon after his triumph last year, he got married, has become a father and is a front-runner in the British Superbike Championship. 'It has been a big 12 months for me, and it is nice to be back in Macau,' he said. 'Obviously I'm happy with pole position. But that's just the first part of the job done.'
The 26-year-old racer from Hawick did not improve on Thursday's fastest lap of two minutes, 25.476 seconds - a new qualifying lap record - but none of his rivals was able to come anywhere close, with the cold conditions yesterday morning not helping.
'I also tried on new tyres, which were not so good,' he said.