Record there for the taking, Easton says
Stuart Easton does not like getting ahead of himself but the flying Scotsman feels he could write his name into the record books as the most successful rider at the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.
Still only 27 and gunning for a hat-trick of titles at the Guia circuit, Easton knows he has youth, experience and the machine to at least match the six wins Michael Rutter and fellow British legend Ron Haslam share.
'Can the record be broken? Of course it can. And I think I can do it. I am a long way off it but I would be halfway there if I win in Macau again this year. Then I will go for a fourth title, then a fifth and sixth,' said Easton, who will be making his seventh visit to Macau.
'If I win three, I would definitely look at the record. I am only 27, while Michael [Rutter] is 38. I have many years of racing left in me. I will still be in my 20s in the next two years,' he said.
Easton knows his youth sets him apart from Rutter, who has been chasing the outright record for four years now without success. Last year, Rutter came closest to making it a magical seven wins, but the Scot's masterful domination was too much and Rutter had to play second fiddle again.
And Easton feels it is going to be his year again. Just last month, he made a bold switch back to the MSS Kawasaki team after two years with Swan Honda - a stint he had not particularly enjoyed. Easton decided to go back mainly because of Kawasaki's new bike - the Ninja 2X-10R - which the team will parade at next season's British Superbike Championship.
'It's a big improvement from the previous one. We are testing the bike now [in Aragon, Spain]. That was a big reason behind the move [back to Kawasaki]. It's exciting because I am returning to a team that I have won with before.
'I know they are a good team and, with this new bike, it should be really good,' Easton said.
'The testing in Aragon was more to get to know the bike. I had been riding a Honda for two years and I needed to get familiar with Kawasaki again. It feels great. It feels fast and I'm looking forward to racing Kawasaki again in Macau.'
Unfortunately, bike fans will not catch a glimpse of the new Ninja next week. Easton will return on a Paul Byrd Kawasaki 1000cc factory bike.
Easton did not enjoy the best of seasons in this year's British Superbike Championship. Third overall in the series in 2009, Easton finished ninth this year, 460 points behind champion Ryuichi Kiyonari of Japan. He endured a bad spell when he suffered tissue damage to his leg in a heavy pre-season crash in March and needed weeks of recuperation to regain full fitness.
But Easton does not blame injury for his poor season. He said he had more problems with his Honda bike, which he said failed to fire. 'The leg is all right. It wasn't the main reason why I didn't do so well in the BSC. We basically had too many mechanical failures. I think it stopped eight times out of 12 finishes,' he said.
'There had been some high points with six podiums and one win so there were some good times but there were too many bike failures.'
With the British season behind him, Easton is looking forward to Macau again - and he is confident he will grab the chequered flag.
'I feel quite good. Every year I go to Macau, I feel more experienced at the circuit. I know the ins and outs, all the small details of the track. I know all about the event now. I have been going for quite a few years and I am looking forward to racing at the circuit again,' he said.
Easton feels Rutter (Team of Paris-Ducati) will be his main rival again, but he said Australia's Cameron Donald (Relentless Suzuki), John McGuinness (IGT-Honda) and his Kawasaki teammate and compatriot, Keith Amor, would not make it easy, either.
'Macau is my last race for the year. I hope to get three wins on the trot. I want to finish the end of the year on a high. That would be good,' he said.