This year’s Macau Grand Prix will have some added spice with record winner Michael Rutter lining up on a GP-spec Honda RC213V-S for the first time as he looks to take his first victory at the event since 2012.
The Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing rider has taken a record eight wins and 18 podiums at the Far East meeting but has had to play second fiddle to the likes of Peter Hickman and Glenn Irwin in recent years and is determined to get back to winning ways this time around. The bike is similar in spec to the Padgetts machine ridden by Bruce Anstey in 2016 and 2017 and Rutter is hoping for similar success.
“I’ve ridden the BMW for a good few years now and when one of my sponsors acquired the Honda, we thought it would be best to ride it rather than look at it,” explained Rutter.
“Bruce showed at the Ulster GP and TT that the bike can be competitive and although Macau’s a very different circuit to those two, we should be able to utilise many of the bikes’ characteristics. It’s a good few kilos lighter than the BMW which will help with the changes in direction through the hills whilst it won’t be far away with top end speed down towards Lisboa.”
“It’s certainly something different and we needed to do something to try and beat Peter as he’s a good few years younger than me and is riding at the top of his game. On paper, the Honda should be competitive but the reality is we won’t know until we get there. Being lighter in weight to the BMW, it’s very good under braking and is very light and nimble which should stand us in good stead around the twisty sections of Macau.”
The team only got their hands on the bike in late September with Rutter’s track time being limited to a handful of laps around the Brands Hatch GP circuit at the final BSB round and two track days at Donington Park. It’s been a race against time to get the bike ready so is it a gamble?
“I was a bit concerned initially as we couldn’t get the traction we needed but the more work we’ve done to it, the better its felt. Every time I’ve gone out on track, we’ve moved forward and although until we get to Macau we won’t know if it can win, it does everything well – it’s light, it turns, it stops and it sounds brilliant. I’ve ridden a lot of bikes in my career but I can say without hesitation the RC213V-S is the best bike I’ve ever ridden.”
“At the same time though, it’s a major gamble without doubt and whilst the bike felt good at Brands and Donington, we won’t know how it will perform until that first practice session at Macau. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into it this last month to get it ready though and we want it to work as the plan, hopefully, will be to ride it at the Isle of Man TT next year.”