Hickman Fastest in Opening Session at Macao
Conditions were almost perfect for the opening Free Practice session of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix – 55th Edition. With many riders returning having been away from the Guia Circuit for some time and without having to post lap times, the riders used the session to either familiarise themselves with the track or their bikes, and sometimes both.
Having won nine Macau Grand Prix races, Michael Rutter is the most successful rider in the history of the event. The Bathams-backed competitor, aboard the MGM FHO Racing BMW, said he enjoyed being back at a circuit he knows so well. “I really enjoyed that,” he beamed as he stepped off the machine. “I’m on a new Superbike so I’m still learning my way around it but so far it feels good. I’m confident we will have it where we want it by Saturday.”
The quickest man during the session was three-time Macau Grand Prix winner Peter Hickman. He’s on the MGM FHO Racing BMW and looked as if he’d never been away.
“It took a lap or two but then everything clicked,” admitted Hickman. “We’re still looking for the right setting here and there but we’re not far off. The plan is hopefully to post a good qualifying time in the first session and then try different things like tyre compounds etc in the second.”
Last year’s Macau Grand Prix winner, Erno Kostamo, looked to be in a determined mood throughout. He was the first rider to post a fast time and maintained that speed throughout. The Finn is confident he can carry the battle to the other front runners. “That was a good session,” said Kostamo. “I have a bit in reserve so to post times like that was encouraging. I’m the current Macao champion and I don’t intend to give up that title easily.”
Davey Todd (Burrows Engineering/RK Racing BMW) went second fastest in the session, with German David Datzer (MTP-Racing by ZERO UP Penz 13 BMW) fourth fastest ahead of Phillip Crowe who rounded out the top five.
More, from a press release issued by FHO Racing:
FHO Racing BMW Motorrad top the times in the opening Macau Grand Prix practice
The 55th Edition of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix got underway today at 07:45am local time, where Faye Ho’s team FHO Racing BMW Motorrad, sponsored by MGM, made its debut at the event and set the pace early, with Peter Hickman topping the practice times aboard the BMW M 1000 RR.
Returning to the streets of Macau after four years away, Hicky along with his teammate Michael Rutter – both multiple Macau GP winners – quickly got back into the swing of things, with Michael leading the way during the opening stages of the session.
Throughout the practice, Michael nine-time Macau GP winner, struggled slightly with the setting of his BMW, a machine he’s ridden just once before arriving at the event. Taking the chequered flag in seventh, the FHO Racing team is assessing the data collected to optimise the settings ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session.
Meanwhile, teammate Hickman moved up the ranks from sixth, finishing as the session leader, recording his quickest time on the final lap (2:28.389), 0.7s ahead of second place.
Not only did Faye’s team make its Macau track debut today, Josh Brookes also experienced the Guia Circuit for the very first time. Finding his feet quickly at the 6.276km circuit, Josh impressed and finished the session 12th, eight seconds back from teammate Hicky.
The FHO Racing BMW Motorrad team will be back in action tomorrow (Friday 17 November) for two qualifying sessions, ahead of the 12-lap race on Saturday (18 November).
Josh Brookes – 12th:
“I think opening practice went well, but I found it difficult to enjoy it. I think the enjoyment will come when I can relax a little more, it’s very well known that these events are quite dangerous, but on the opening laps the recognition of the danger is heightened, so you know you can’t really relax and enjoy anything when you’re such an amateur. You need to learn every corner, every bump and understand it all clearly before you can ride in a relaxed way. I think when that comes then I can start to enjoy myself, but yeah to finish in 12th position, I was actually really happy with, so it was better than I expected really.”
Michael Rutter – 7th:
“Coming here, I’m used to jumping on a bike and getting a 1-2-3, so it’s a bit of a shock being seventh! It’s kind of what I expected but you hope it’s going to be a bit different; I’ve got a lot to learn still. Normally I arrive here on a bike I’ve ridden all season, but I’ve jumped on the BMW with just one outing on it on a roads circuit, it’s a bit lively at the moment. Hopefully the quicker I go the better it goes, that’s what normally happens, we need to cross that line where you need to push it harder and sometimes it gets easier so I’m hoping for that tomorrow!”
Peter Hickman – 1st:
“That was my first run in four years here, which was always going to be a little bit of a shock to the system, Macau is a shock to the system without that sort of gap! This place is really hard, it’s unlike any other track you’ll ever ride, it’s really unusual, it’s very challenging but it’s actually really good. The first session is always the worst though, so it was about how I expected it to feel. The BMW was pretty good to be honest, we made a few little changes in the session, I normally don’t make any changes in the first session just because it’s always the worst one, but I felt like the gearing was quite a way out, so we made one little change to it and we’re going to go a bit further with it as well after the session. Overall I’m quite happy with that first run, and ending P1 was a little bit of a bonus at the end!”
Faye Ho – Team Principal:
“This morning my dream came true as my team, FHO Racing BMW Motorrad made its debut at the Macau Grand Prix, to see the BMWs and the riders with the FHO logo was something really special here at my home event. I’m so pleased with the early results, especially with Josh who has never ridden here before, to finish 12th is impressive and I’m looking forward to seeing his progress over the next few days. Of course, Michael and Peter are very experienced here and for Pete to lead at the end of the opening day, just sets us up for the next few days as we go into qualifying tomorrow, ahead of Saturday’s race.”