Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix: Race one cancelled, race two pushed to Sunday

The Macau Grand Prix returns this weekend, albeit with just four British riders in the motorcycle class and greatly reduced grid sizes across the board.

Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix: Race one cancelled, race two pushed to Sunday

THE Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix might not have the history or spectacle of the Isle of Man TT, but that doesn’t prevent hordes of the best road racers on the planet from making a pilgrimage to the tiny region every year.

Indeed, such is the spectacle of the glitzy event, the list of previous winners includes big names like John McGuinness, Steve Hislop, Ron Haslam, Peter Hickman, and even 1988 winner and MotoGP legend Kevin Schwantz.

That list of near household names is a far cry from the list of starters for 2022, as bikes return to Macau returns from a Covid-19 enforced hiatus. The break prevented bike racers and teams from travelling in 2020 and 2021, and it’s not as if the pandemic isn’t still having an effect on the event. For this year’s event, competitors and entire teams will be forced to quarantine for seven days once arriving in the region. For many teams, which have paid mechanics and engineers, the concept of having them sit in a hotel twiddling their thumbs makes the trip basically a bust.

Just four British riders heading to Macau GP in 2022

The lack of interest in the event is reflected by the lack of many if any riders from the big teams making the journey. The motorcycle starters list carries just four British entrants, Suzuki-mounted Paul Williams, and Robert Hodson riding a Kawasaki, Joey Thompson, and Matt Stevenson, both riding BMW S 1000 RRs. Compare that to 2019, pre-Covid-19, and British riders in the event totalled 14. The total entry list for this year’s event is just 15 riders in total.

It's something that Lee Johnston, who debuted at the event in 2012, thinks may take the shine off the win. “You can only beat whoever is there of course” BBC reports, “but with no disrespect intended to those taking part, even if you did win it, it would still always be remembered as the year nobody went.” Johnston goes on to explain his reason for not attending this year, stating it is simply the quarantine period putting it out of reach. “It's not really feasible to be away that long, All the staff in our team get paid, so to pay staff to sit in a hotel room for seven days before the meeting even started would not make sense,”.

Johnston's fellow road racer Gary Johnson had a similar perspective. Speaking to Visordown, Johnson said that even finding a mechanic was impossible. "It was physically impossible for me to find a mechanic that was willing to do the quarantine," Johnson said.

The cost involved in being in Macau for an extended period of time was also a factor. Johnson said "Two-and-a-half weeks in Macau- the cost was beyond what I would be able to sustain."

Johnson also shared similar views on the level of the competition at this year's event. "At the end of the day, a win is a win," Johnson said, but "I would myself be judging myself [based on] previous lap times if I was there."

Since Johnston spoke to the BBC and Johnson spoke with us here at Visordown, the Macau Grand Prix has got underway, but for the motorcycles the schedule is reduced. A crash in one of the car races before the first motorcycle race was due to begin saw the first race cancelled, while the second has been rescheduled to Sunday.

With most of the big names in the world of road racing needing big teams to participate in the event, it’s highly likely that the sentiments of Johnston and Johnson are shared with the rest of the British road racers left out of this year’s event. Here’s hoping the situation is fixed before 2023, when the historic race is in its 55th edition.

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