66th Macau Grand Prix Special | Co-ordinated by Sérgio Fonseca
Motorcycle Grand Prix – 53rd Edition
Michael Rutter is a living legend of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix. He is the most successful rider ever, notching eight wins since his first in 1998. “The Blade” is coming again; targeting his ninth win in the Far East blue riband.
He 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 his winning ways this time around. The 47-year-old, who made his racing debut back in 1992, holds this event close to his heart. It is no coincidence that he finished over twenty times on the podium here.
John Mcavoy, the author of Rutter’s autobiography – ‘Michael Rutter the Life of a Racer’ – explains why he keeps coming back. “It’s quite simple, and I’m afraid it’s a terrible cliché, but he really does enjoy racing at Macau. He speaks a lot about the fact that it’s so different from anywhere else that he races.”
Rutter’s autobiography is the remarkable tale of how Michael has stayed competitive for 30 years, stepping out of the shadow of his 4-time world champion dad, Tony Rutter, to add his own name to the list of all-time greats of the sport. Knowing the man is the first step to understanding why he loves Macau so much.
“Not just the nature of the track, with walls being especially unique, but the culture, the climate, the event being alongside the car race. Everything about it is like nowhere else, and that is a big attraction for him,” adds Mcavoy.
One can’t imagine a Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix without Rutter’s name on the entry list. But one day, the Midlands rider will hang up his helmet. However, do not expect him to vanish from the paddock. The Englishman has been busy with his latest racing adventure as Team Principal.
Book writer Mcavoy reckons, “When he retires, his plan is to run the race team that he established in 2016 (Bathams Racing). He has accumulated so much knowledge and experience of racing and the race paddock that he would be a huge asset to any race team, so he set his own up! He is a born racer, so after he retires from riding, he’ll still be involved in racing one way or another. He loves it too much and doesn’t know anything else.”
1998 Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix winner and former 500cc Grand Prix (now MotoGP) World Champion, Kevin Schwantz, once said that the risk of a circuit like Macau just wasn’t worth it. Perhaps, only few understand why a man that has anything to prove to the world put his life at risk around the Guia circuit year after year. While his retirement is not in his plans, the evergreen Rutter still feels a fearless motivation to go out and race at those outrageous speeds, knowing there’s absolutely no forgiveness when a mistake is made.
“It’s important to understand that he, like other road racers, sees risk differently than you and me,” says Mcavoy. “He obviously understands and respects that the course is dangerous, but he does not see it as any more dangerous or any more risky as, say, the North West 200, TT or even a short circuit like Silverstone. He views them all as dangerous, but containing different types of dangers and different types of challenges. In short, he doesn’t see Macau as any higher risk than any of the circuits he races on short/road or street.”
“There will certainly be bike racers who will see one track as more dangerous than another, but, rightly or wrongly, I just don’t,” Rutter tells us in his autobiography. “They’re all just strips of tarmac, and each one is unique and has its own unique challenges and dangers. Macau is no different, except that it actually is.”
Like Schwantz once also said, “It definitely takes a special breed of person…”