Macau GP: Irwin win overshadowed by fatal accident

PBM Ducati rider Glenn Irwin has won the Macau Grand Prix for the first time in tragic circumstances.

GLENN Irwin claimed his maiden victory in Saturday’s ill-fated Macau Grand Prix, which was marred by a fatal accident. 

Irwin was leading Peter Hickman in the race by 1.1 seconds when the red flag came out following the incident at the end of lap six.

The PBM Ducati rider took the lead of the race off the line from pole on the Panigale, but two-time winner Hickman hit the front with a move on the brakes into Lisboa.

However, Irwin (pictured) had nosed ahead again by the end of the lap and was attempting to break the tow of his SMT Bathams BMW rival.

The leading duo quickly began to pull clear of Martin Jessopp in third on the Riders Motorcycles BMW, who was being chased by eight-time winner Michael Rutter (SMT Bathams BMW) and Conor Cummins on the Padgetts Honda.

Irwin had opened a visible lead over Hickman by lap four, but the English rider slashed the deficit on lap five as the race began to build into a straight shootout between the fellow British Superbike men.

There was only 1.1 seconds between the pair when the race was stopped, with Rutter out of contention in third, some seven seconds in arrears.

Irwin is the first rider from Northern Ireland since Phillip McCallen in 1996 to win the race.

Yeovil man Jessopp was confirmed in fourth place ahead of Cummins, with Gary Johnson completing the top six on the Briggs Kawasaki.

Dean Harrison (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki) and Lee Johnston (East Coast BMW) were the top eight.

A rider killed on Saturday in a crash at Fisherman’s Bend was named as Englishman Dan Hegarty, 31, competing for Honda satellite team Topgun Racing. The race was immediately red-flagged following the incident.

A statement from the organisers said: “Daniel’s family and team have been contacted, and the Committee will ensure every assistance is extended to them.

“The Macau Grand Prix Committee extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Daniel.”

Mr Hegarty made his debut at the Chinese road race in 2016, finishing in 16th place.

He was the Isle of Man TT Privateers Champion in 2016 and had raced at the TT since 2011.

Mr Hegarty's fatal accident was the first at Macau since Luis Carreira from Portugal was killed in qualifying in 2012.

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