Market Rasen racers set to tackle demanding Macau GP

Market Rasen motorcycle racer Phil Crowe is set to get his first taste of the Macau Grand Prix's tough road circuit this weekend.

Gary Johnson has never finished outside of the top five
Gary Johnson has never finished outside of the top five

Crowe is among a handful of debutants among a star-studded field of TT winners and multiple international road race winners who will take on the challenging 3.8-mile street circuit in Asia.

Thundersport GB series front-runner Crowe has quietly impressed with his application, pace and race craft in recent international road races.

Most recently he neared the prized 130mph lap mark at this summer’s Isle of Man TT and will pilot his Handtrans JCR Racing-backed BMW Motorrad bike on his Macau debut.

Phil Crowe EMN-181211-170131002

Crowe insisted he was going to adopt a cautious approach as he gets to grips with the sharp twists and fast straights of the Guia street circuit.

He said: “I have no expectations of where I will finish the race, I do not intend to get wrapped up in trying to become the fastest newcomer, but want to learn my way around the course so I can come back with confidence next time.”

Crowe will be joined on the former Portuguese colony by Broughton rider Gary Johnson who has podium ambitions on his return to Macau.

Johnson had been due to ride his own Suzuki, but will instead campaign the Kawasaki ZX-10R which Jake Dixon took to sixth place in the British Superbike Championship.

The Lincolnshire rider has a tremendous pedigree at Macau, having made his debut there in 2008.

His best result came in 2013 when he finished in third place, and he has crossed the line fourth on three occasions – 2009, 2012 and 2014 – with three more top-six finishes to his name.

The 36-year old was forced to retire from the race 12 months ago, but has recorded excellent results with the Kawasaki ZX-10R on the roads.

And although the 2017 season hasn’t exactly gone to plan, he will go into this year’s race as one of the favourites for honours.

He said: “The likes of Peter (Hickman), Michael (Rutter), Martin (Jessop) and Glenn (Irwin) will certainly be the men to beat given their previous form at Macau and the fact they’ve been riding well all season in the British Championships.

“But with everything taken care of now in terms of the bike and the team, I can focus on my fitness to ensure I’m as ready as I possibly can be once practice gets underway.”

Free practice runs from 7.30am to 8.30pm on Thursday followed by the opening session of qualifying from 4pm to 4.45pm.

Second qualifying to determine the race grid takes place from 7.30am to 8.30am the following day, and on Saturday begins with warm-up from 11.50am to 12.10pm followed by the 12-lap race from 3.55pm.