MOTORCYCLING: Glenn Irwin 'gutted' after technical issue thwarts Macau GP podium bid

Glenn Irwin on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati at the Macau Grand Prix.

Glenn Irwin on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati at the Macau Grand Prix.

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Northern Ireland’s Glenn Irwin says he was ‘gutted’ to miss out on the chance to seal a sensational podium in his debut at the 50th Suncity Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.

The British Superbike prospect had qualified on the front row and was lying third with around a lap-and-a-half remaining when he encountered a technical issue with the PBM Be Wiser Ducati.

Irwin was forced into the pits as his debut ultimately ended in disappointment, but it was a magnificent performance by the Carrick man, who says he will return to the event in the Far East in 2017 if the opportunity is there with Paul Bird’s team.

The race was won by Peter Hickman on the Bathams/SMT BMW, who made it back-to-back victories following his triumph in 2015, with team-mate Michael Rutter finishing as the runner-up. Somerset’s Martin Jessopp claimed the final place on the rostrum after losing the lead of the race late on when he experienced gear-change problems with the Riders Motorcycles BMW.

Irwin, who has a verbal agreement in place with PBM for next year’s British Superbike Championship, said he was making a plan for the final lap when he ran into trouble.

“To say I’m gutted is an understatement. I felt happy running with the other three riders and the plan was to make a move on the last lap,” he said.

“I pulled back half a second on Rutter on the lap before and was within 0.8 seconds of the lead when I suffered a technical problem on the penultimate lap. It’s disappointing as I really felt I could have had a podium but these things happen," Irwin added.

“I’d like to say a massive thanks to my team, Ducati and the sponsors for making this happen and I’d love to come back again next year with the PBM Be Wiser Ducati Team and finish the job off.”

Behind Hickman, Rutter and Jessopp, Manx rider Conor Cummins (Honda Racing), Horst Saiger (Kawasaki) and four-time winner Stuart Easton (Bathams/SMT BMW) completed the first six.

John McGuinness finished seventh on the Honda Racing Fireblade ahead of Tyco BMW rider Ian Hutchinson.

Ireland’s Derek Sheils was an excellent ninth as he made his debut at the event on the Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki.

Michael Sweeney (BMW) from Skerries finished in 20th ahead of fellow Irishman Brian McCormack in 21st on the TAG Racing Honda.