Smiths Racing BMW and Peter Hickman joined forces with the Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing team for their assault on this year’s Macau Grand Prix and it proved to be a winning combination as the 31 year old took victory in Saturday’s race, his third win in four years.
Having taken victories already in 2015 and 2016, Thursday’s opening day had seen the Louth-based rider top the opening qualifying session with a time of 2m25.429s, ahead of team-mate Michael Rutter and while it was the latter who set the initial pace in Friday morning’s second session, Hickman moved ahead halfway through with a lap of 2m25.022s.
Near the end of the 45-minute session though, the timing screens showed he was on a rapid lap with the fastest sector times all the way round the 3.8-mile Guia circuit. Indeed, as he flashed across the line, his lap of 2m23.904s on his BMW S1000RR was not only four tenths of a second quicker than he’d ever gone before but also just 0.288s outside Stuart Easton’s outright lap record which was set back in 2010.
Saturday’s 12-lap race saw Rutter grab an early lead and he held on until the fourth lap when Hickman decided to make his move, mindful of the fact the chasing group of Danny Webb, Martin Jessopp and Gary Johnson were closing in.
As soon as he hit the front, Hickman – aided by the fastest lap of the race – edged clear with his advantage over Rutter at one stage almost one and a half seconds and although the latter reduced the deficit to 0.795s, by lap nine Hickman was again more than a second clear. The red flags then came out after an incident involving Phil Crowe and Ben Wylie, fortunately without serious injury to either rider, and Hickman declared the winner.
Peter Hickman: “As soon as we completed first practice, I was looking forward to the racing as the BMW was working well right from the off with my Smiths Racing crew working hard as always. We quickly found a great set-up and the track was in really good condition, probably the best I’ve seen it since 2015, so I was able to take pole position, which was terrific as I’m not a qualifying rider really, more of a race day man.
“Michael got a great start in the race but I was happy to sit behind him and follow him for a few laps before making my move. I tried to break him and open up a gap but after half distance he started to reel me in so I got my head down again to pull away once more before the red flags came out. Thankfully, the boys are ok and I’m just delighted for Smiths Racing and Aspire-Ho by Bathams racing to have won and with race wins at all the other International road races, it’s wrapped up a brilliant year.”
Rebecca Smith, Team Manager: “We’re over the moon to have won the Macau Grand Prix with both Peter and Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing and everyone has worked so hard to make it all possible. Peter was the favourite for the race but he still had to go out there and do the business and it was certainly close between the leading five riders in the early stages. Peter made his move when he felt comfortable and victory concludes what’s been a superb season and I can’t thank the entire team enough for all their hard work, commitment and dedication.”
Images (from Stephen Davison, Pacemaker Press International) from Macau today.
Note to Editors:
Smiths (Gloucester) Limited was started in 1982 by Alan Smith. Smiths is a family run business and provides services in construction, waste management and recycling, demolition, transport, skip hire, laser levelling, asbestos removal and plant hire. It has grown from a small, owner-operated construction firm to one of the region’s largest and most respected construction services and waste management companies.
Alan Smith developed his love of bikes and racing in the 1980s when he competed in local and national amateur motocross events, his highest achievement being several top three positions in the national four-stroke and superclass categories.
The Smiths Racing Team continues the family ethos with daughter Rebecca adopting the mantle of Team Manager and wife Anne, son Paul and daughters Helen and Lisa often seen supporting the team on race days.