After horror crash nearly killed him, Stuart Easton gets back on motorbike for first time to defend Macau Grand Prix title
Scot is returning to the track after a huge crash almost cost him his life as he looks for his fifth title on the Guia circuit
The 32-year-old Scot said he was “very lucky” to be alive after a spectacular crash ended his British Superbike Championship campaign in round six at Brands Hatch in England in July. He suffered a leg fracture and damaged knee.
Easton said he would take part in his first race since his accident at the 49th edition of the Far East classic on November 21.
“I tried to ride [again] but I wasn’t able to do so. This will be my first time riding since the injury,” said Easton, who will be racing for Tommy Hill’s Yamaha team in Macau.
The double British Superbike champion said he had not done any testing on his new YZF-R1 Yamaha and will be racing “cold”.
“Hopefully the practice sessions will be enough. This will be one of the drawbacks with the lack of preparedness and time on the bike.
“There isn’t a lot that prepares you for Macau anyway because it’s a lot different from other circuits. I just have to see how the event goes when I get there,” said the Scot, who hails from Hawick.
It will be the first time Easton will not ride for Paul Bird in Macau, having won titles on the 6.2km Guia circuit for the British motorsport organisation in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and 2014. He returned to Macau on a Kawasaki after a four-year absence last year, finishing ahead of eight-time champion Michael Rutter.
That victory came three years after a high-speed crash during free practice for the North West 200 in Northern Ireland in 2011, which left him with multiple injuries and a long road to recovery.
Easton said crashing was “part of racing life”.
“It wasn’t my fault [at Brands Hatch]. It wasn’t a rider error. It was a brake failure. There’s no problem for me as a rider,” said the Scot, nicknamed the “Comeback Kid”.
“I am completely healed from my injuries. I’ve done physiotherapy and exercises and I’ve done everything I can to get ready for the race,” said Easton, who became a father for the second time in July.
“It will be the first time I will race on a Yamaha [in Macau] and it’s another new challenge for me.
"I think there’s enough time to get used to a bike with the practice and qualifying sessions because I think at the same time, Macau is different because you don’t ride the bike as fast as you possibly can.
"It’s more of … you dare. I think it will be okay on that front.”
Asked whether he will be out to beat Rutter’s Macau record of eight wins, Easton said: “I think I am going to take it one race at a time. I haven’t really thought about the record but maybe after I get to five or six [wins] it might be a bit more clearer [to me] and I might think about the record then.”