Flying Scotsman makes it three in a row
It was meant to be one of the closest duels in history, but it turned out to be a one-man show as Scotland's Stuart Easton roared to his third successive Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix title yesterday in one of the most dominant victories in years.
Pole-setting Michael Rutter had put himself in strong contention and had the best chance to finally snare a title-breaking seventh Macau GP win, but 27-year-old Easton would have none of that as he dominated the twice-started race to move closer to the all-time record himself.
Easton's fastest lap during the race was an unbelievable two minutes and 23.616 seconds - a circuit record that beat Rutter's previous mark set in qualifying on Friday (2:23.714).
Easton shook his fist and celebrated on his Kawasaki 1000 after storming to the finish line alone as the well-beaten Rutter, in a Team of Paris-AXA Ducati 1200, limped home in second place, performing a wheelie right at the finish to show he was not too disappointed. American Jeremy Toye was a surprise third - 24 seconds behind Easton - with British pair, Simon Andrews and Gary Johnson, in fourth and fifth place respectively.
'It's a fantastic feeling to win again,' Easton said. 'The first year I won it [in 2008], I said, 'Right I won it, that's it', and then I won two and I said, 'I'll never go that fast again', and now I have gone even faster. We will be back in 12 months' time. I really enjoy this race. It's one of my favourites.'
While Rutter can breathe easy that his joint record will stand for at least another three years, he knows Easton has the potential to go all the way as the Scot never put a foot wrong to beat Rutter by an astonishing 10.896 seconds at the chequered flag.
The race was red-flagged after seven laps when Canadian rider Chris Peris slipped off his bike in one of the day's more serious accidents. Peris was trapped under his BMW 1000 before attendants managed to pull the bike off him. He was conscious and sitting up before being sent to hospital for observation.
At the restart, Easton was quickly away again and it was a case of 'catch me if you can' as Rutter valiantly tried to keep up with the flying Scotsman's searing pace. Rutter was already 2.290 seconds behind Easton after one lap of the restart as Easton gradually pulled away for an easy win.
Rutter said: 'Stuart rode fantastic. He just got his head down and pulled a gap in the second part at the restart. It was a bit of a shame my tyres didn't last. But Stuart would have won it anyway whether we had a super tyres or not.'
Easton paid tribute to 38-year-old Rutter, who rode a superb race but whose challenge just petered out.
'It was difficult because he was right on me all the way. And then the race was stopped and that made me really nervous for the restart. My game plan was really to go for it at the restart, and that's what I did. The pitboard said plus 1.5 [seconds] and I thought I'd done it. I'm going to be consistent and bring it home. I was consistent. But Michael still took a second off me. To take that time out of me and push me with the times he was doing, to me he's still the man.'