Macau Grand Prix

Martin Jessopp on pole for Macau Grand Prix motorbike race as he looks to finally end jinx

Brit has finished second three times, including last year when his tyres blew with the finish line in sight

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 2016, 11:07pm

Martin Jessopp says he endures sleepless nights and days where he walks around in a daze because of the insomnia that hits each time he comes to Macau.

Imagine what he might do after a good night’s kip.

Jessopp on Friday secured pole position for the second year straight and heads into Saturday’s 50th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix gunning for his first victory at an event where he’s finished second three times from eight attempts.

That clearly rankles the ultra-competitive 31-year-old Brit and he’s hoping to leave nothing to chance this time around.

“Every year we come here for the win and that’s no different now,” said the Riders Motorcycles BMW ace. “We know what needs to be done so now it’s up to me.

“I come for a week every year and I’ve never been able to sleep. Up at three o’clock, four, five. It doesn’t get any easier but you know you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else would you?”

Jessopp had flown from pole last year, only to see his hopes fall apart as his tyres did late in the race, leaving rubber all over the track and giving Peter Hickman an open path to victory.

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“All I could do was sit there and watch Peter go past and hope I could hang on for second,” said Jessopp. “Not a great feeling to be honest but we just have to hope we get everything right this year and leave nothing to chance.”

Pole position assures that, for a start at least.

“It feels good,” said Jessopp. “But as we saw last year qualifying doesn’t mean much. It’s nice to have a bit of confidence but I think it’s going to be 90 per cent about the tyres.

“If you look after them, and don’t destroy them you’ll be alright. But I think we’re so close on he race times there are so many guys who can come through for the win.”

Up close to Jessopp when the flag falls Saturday will be Michael Rutter, eight-time winner here, and third last year to add to the Brit’s incredible collection of podium finishes dating back to 1994.

The 44-year-old looked as he always does – completely at home – through practice and qualifying.

Rutter said on arrival in Macau that adding a ninth title, in the event’s 50th year and with nine former champions either in the race or watching on from the stands, would be “a dream.”

The Bathams/SMT Racing BMW rider is, as always, right in the mix.

“What I know is if you get into that top three or top four in the first lap you can settle into it and take things from there,” said Rutter.

“Tyres wise it will be hard work deciding which way to go. We’ll have to see what the conditions are like tomorrow and go with that.”

The surprise packet so far this week has been 26-year-old Northern Irish rookie Glenn Irwin, third in qualifying for the Be Wiser Ducati Race Team.

He was wide-eyed after his morning exertions.

“On other circuits you never really get scared but on the first couple of laps here it was dangerous,” said Irwin.

“But once you understand it you realise the fastest way is the safest way. Turn one and two are probably the best I have done in my life.

“You breathe a sigh of relief at the end of every lap but I’m really impressed. I hope this is the first year of many here.”