John McGuinness made a successful return to Superbike racing this week with the Morecambe ace tackling the Macau Grand Prix for the first time in two years.
The 46-year-old, part of the Tak Chun Group by PBM Ducati team, finished in 10th place in Saturday’s shortened race as Peter Hickman took victory after eight laps.
After eighteen months away from riding a Superbike, the legacy of multiple injuries sustained at the North West 200 in May 2017, the Morecambe Missile was largely happy with how things went.
“I had a top-10 finish on my radar before getting here and whilst I could be a bit disappointed with 10th, the lads who finished in front of me have been riding all year and are sharp, riding week in, week out,” McGuinness said.
“The Ducati was fantastic, the team were ace and there was no pressure from anyone so it’s nice to go into winter with a race under my belt and I can look ahead now to 2019.”
The Isle of Man TT great’s efforts began with the first hour-long free practice session on Thursday, where he re-familiarised himself with the 3.8-mile Guia circuit and got accustomed to the 1199 Ducati Panigale.
McGuinness finished 11th before taking a further seven seconds off his time to finish ninth in first qualifying later that afternoon.
More improvements in final qualifying moved him up to eighth ahead of Saturday’s race.
A solid start saw McGuinness complete the first lap in 10th place and he remained there for the first half of the race.
Heading into lap nine, the veteran had the BMW duo of Derek Sheils and Davey Todd just ahead of him but any hopes of climbing higher up the leaderboard ended soon after when Phil Crowe and Ben Wylie crashed, fortunately without serious injury.
The incident subsequently brought out the red flags and the race result was declared at the end of eight laps which placed McGuinness 10th.
“I was a little bit rusty and nervous coming into the meeting having not been on a proper Superbike for two years but I was happy enough with my grid position for the race,” he said.
“Everything slowly came back to me and it started flowing and I got into a bit of a rhythm towards the end and went a bit faster so I was looking to give a good account of myself in the race and enjoy myself.
“From not being on the Macau start line since 2016 , I rode really tight for a lap or two and was a bit rubbish for a bit but I settled down into a decent pace and rhythm.”