British legend Michael Rutter returns to Macau seeking a record ninth motorcycle grand prix victory
The 44-year-old says he will keep racing until his body tells him to stop, while the Guia circuit also welcomes back 1996 winner Phillip McCallen
Michael Rutter says the butterflies are already playing havoc with his stomach as he prepares to return for a tilt at a ninth Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix victory.
The event obviously has a place in the British rider’s heart but to win the 50th edition of the event would be something else indeed for Rutter, whose bio claims he’s 44 but who seems to defy time itself.
“Every one of them so far is special but to win this time around – being the 50th – that would be incredible,” Rutter said.
“I’d love to win another one but to win this year especially would really be a dream come true. I mean at this stage of my career, when I look back on winning myself – it does make you smile.
“I’ll keep racing for as long as I can, until my body tells me to stop, basically. It’s just such a hard race to win so this year to get on the podium I’d be happy. To win, I’d be ecstatic.”
Macau is preparing to lay on lavish celebrations for the motorcycling heroes who have graced the Guia Circuit in the past.
Rutter – the man widely known as The Blade – will no doubt feature in the celebrations as much as he can but will have to temper his excitement until after his duties with Bathams/SMT Racing and their BMW are over for the main race weekend of November 19-20.
The likes of former winners Sadeo Asami (1978-80), Mick Grant (1977, 84), Steve Plater (2006-07) and Phillip McCallen (1996) will be in town to help spark festivities, which will include a parade around the Guia Circuit on Saturday, November 19.
The 53-year-old McCallen – 11 times a winner at the Isle of Man TT and widely acknowledged as one of motorsport history’s greatest road racers – has not returned to Macau since his victory, and said he expected the memories to come flooding back.
“What I found when I got to Macau for the first time was that everyone there is an adrenaline junkie of some kind – just in different ways,” recalled McCallen.
“I finished second twice before I won and I was just so determined to win there – and when I did it was just brilliant.
“For a road race lover like me it was another achievement somewhere in the world that I could be proud of and I am proud still I have great memories of the place, the race and the people and I can’t wait to get back and catch up with good friends I have not seen for a long time. That’s the thing with Macau – it’s a party but there’s a serious side to the party as well.”
Rutter, meanwhile, said he was enough of realist to acknowledge he’ll again have his work cut out as he chases victory number nine. He finished third last year, behind first-time winner Peter Hickman and Martin Jessopp.
Those two riders are back for another crack at the GP – Hickman joining Rutter at Bathams/SMT Racing BMW alongside four-time winner Stuart Easton (2008, 09, 10, 14) – as are previous winners Ian Hutchinson (2013) and John McGuinness (2001) in a star-studded field fit for the event Golden Jubilee.
“It certainly doesn’t get any easier,” said Rutter. “If you look at who will be out there and who will be a chance of winning, it’s a long list. You just don’t know.
“If you make one mistake it can change the race massively. You really have to experience it to understand. So you’ve just got to get out there and give it your very best.”