No podium but positive end to racing season

John McGuinness at the Macau GP.
John McGuinness at the Macau GP.
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Morecambe’s John McGuinness enjoyed another excellent showing at the Macau Grand Prix on Saturday, with the Honda Racing rider crossing the line at the end of the 12 laps in a fine fourth place.

Having made his debut at the Far East venue back in 1998, the trip to Macau has become an annual event for the 23-times Isle of Man TT winner, and his week got off to a strong start on Thursday when he placed second in the morning’s free practice session.

With conditions around the 3.8-mile armco-lined circuit perfect, things got better still for John later in the afternoon when he topped the timesheets after the opening qualifying session, his best lap of 2m27.476s giving him a slender advantage of 0.230s over Martin Jessopp.

However, it was the latter named who went on to claim pole position in Friday’s final qualifying session with a stunning lap of 2m24.387s.

John improved his time too, but only by four tenths of a second, and it meant he lined up in fifth place and on the second row for Saturday afternoon’s 12-lap race.

Getting underway just after 3pm local time, a solid start saw John complete the first lap in sixth place, just ahead of team-mate Conor Cummins.

As the race wore on, eventual winner Peter Hickman and Jessopp had gone clear at the head of the pack with Michael Rutter just about secure in third.

However, the battle for fourth was anything but secure, and as the race entered its closing stages John was circulating in close formation with Gary Johnson, Ian Hutchinson and Cummins.

It looked like John would have to settle for fifth, but an excellent overtaking maneouvre on Johnson saw him ride around the outside of his rival and take an excellent fourth at the chequered flag.

McGuinness said: “The move on Gary for fourth was brave, but I had confidence in myself and the Fireblade that we’d make it, so thought just go for it.

“I am slightly disappointed that I wasn’t on the podium, but I’ve had a good year so I’m happy with fourth, it’s a really good way to end the season.”