Paul Bird Motorsport rider Stuart Easton defied a three year absence to take a comprehensive victory in today's 48th running of the Suncity Group Macau Grand Prix.
The 30 year old Hawick rider started from pole position aboard the Rapid Solicitors and Monster Energy-backed PBM by The Venetian Hotel Kawasaki after edging out main rival Michael Rutter by over half a second in qualifying.
From there, the double British Supersport Champion and 2014 MCE BSB Rider's Cup Champion was never headed as he steadily built a lead, lapping over two seconds a lap faster than his rivals around the 6.12km Circuito Da Guia before rolling it off on the last lap to emerge victorious by over 14 seconds.
It was the Scot's fourth Macau GP victory, adding to his successes in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before serious injury saw him miss the 2011 race.
It wasn't such good news for defending Macau GP Champion and Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki team-mate Ian Hutchinson who was hoping to add to the sensational victory he took last year. The Yorkshireman started in fourth on the grid and was running with the leading bunch until he overshot the tricky Lisboa corner in the early stages of the race before rejoining well down the order. However, it got worse for the eight-time TT winner from Bingley when he slid off at slow speed at the Melco Hairpin and retired.
Easton's latest victory rounded off a very successful season for the Penrith-based PBM team which saw Shane 'Shakey' Byrne win the MCE British Superbike Championship, adding to Easton's Rider's Cup success.
Stuart Easton: "To come back after three years and win again is fantastic although I didn't expect it to be quite so easy. I knew my wife and my little boy were watching back home so I had to do it for them. It was a case of just getting my head down and building a lead and I was comfortable putting the laps in. Thanks to the team, this is a great way to end the season on a high."
Ian Hutchinson: "I felt I had good pace but it just wasn't to be this year. Practice and qualifying went OK but I made a mistake on the opening lap and that was my race over. Then I tipped off at walking pace trying to make up lost ground and that was that. Well done to Stuart on a fantastic win, if I had to hand my number one plate over to anyone, it would be him."
Paul Bird: "It's brilliant to get another Macau GP win, that was a proper job! Stuart has been a class above everyone else here all week which is even more impressive when you consider he's not been here for three years. The others simply had no answer for him again today. Hutchy didn't have any luck today but he'll bounce back and I'm sure he'll be joining us for a celebration drink later! Thanks to all our sponsors, especially The Venetian Hotel, Monster Energy and Rapid Solicitors, it's great to have such iconic brands associated with us."
Image courtesy of GCS: Stuart Easton in action at the Macau GP