The annual Macau road races on the southern coast of China are a regular draw to the top names of international road racing, including two-time TT-winner Gary Johnson. With just a couple of days to go before the start of this year’s event, Bruce Wilson asked the Lincolnshire-based rider…
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What’s the attraction of racing Macau?
It’s just something very different. The whole environment is unique and there’s a different atmosphere at Macau to any of the other events I do. The locals go mad for it and it spurs you on to have a great time, as you blast around their local neighbourhood. Unlike the other big international races, it’s purely set in an urban area. You’ve got highrises and concrete everywhere, lit-up by the kind of flashing bill-boards you see in the movies. It’s a surreal place to go. And it’s always warm, which is never a bad thing.
Why do you think you go well here?
I’ve always liked this place and I’ve been here enough times now to know which way I’m going and what it takes to run quick laps. It’s not a massive lap, but it’s very technical. It’s almost like a short circuit track, in that if you get it wrong in one corner then you’ve fluffed the entire section and that really knackers your lap time. It takes a bit of getting your head around. Having a good bike helps, too. Setup is king. You can’t just wing your way around here. You need a bike that’s agile above all else. Some of the top sections are proper tight, so you need to be able to get in and out of corners with ease.
How did last year’s race go?
All good. I had a bit of drama in practice when my bike set fire, but we got that sorted out and I finished 3rd in the race, so felt pretty chuffed with that. There are always some top class riders that come to compete here and it’s not easy to get on the podium, let alone stand on that top step.
How do you think it’ll go this year?
I’m aiming for the top, but so is everyone else. There are some great riders entered, so it’s going to be as tough as ever. I’ve got a mint bike, though, and a fantastic team around me. We’ll do our best and see what comes of it.
Are you fully fit again after this year’s TT accident?
I’m as good as I could hope to be. That’s a crash I could have done without, but I started working on my fitness before I’d even left Noble’s hospital in the Isle of Man, and I’ve not let up since. It takes time to bounce back from big crashes like that, but I’m chuffed with how fit I’m feeling. Good range and flexibility is majorly important in this line of work and that’s something I’ve been focussing on. It was a shame to have missed the Ulster, but I was really glad to get out on track at the Classic TT. It gave me a good run around and convinced me that I was fit enough to come here and take on Macau.