Macau Grand Prix: Heat and humidity a major challenge - NI's Lee Johnston

Lee Johnston
Lee Johnston won Supersport races at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT in 2019

Northern Ireland road racer Lee Johnston says the heat and humidity will pose him a major challenge at next week's Macau motorcycle grand prix.

Johnston is returning to the race, held over the 3.8-mile Guia street circuit, after a one-year absence.

The 30-year-old has a best finish at the event of fifth in 2014.

"I don't mind the track but it can be hot and uncomfortable. It's difficult to adjust to the temperatures," said Ashcourt Racing rider Johnston.

The Fermanagh native finished eighth on his last appearance at the meeting in 2017 and will ride a BMW on this occasion.

"The regular temperature is around 30 degrees but with the humidity it can feel like 60 or 70 so it can be a challenge.

"The race used to be 15 laps but it is now only 12 so that at least makes it a little bit easier," added Johnston, who secured his first Isle of Man TT win in the Supersport class in June.

Hickman going for fourth success

A total of 28 riders are scheduled to line up at the Armco-lined circuit for the race on Saturday 16 November, among them three-time winner and defending champion Peter Hickman.

The Burton-on-Trent rider took victory in 2015, 2016 and 2018 and will ride his Smiths Racing-prepared BMW S1000RR under the MGM by Bathams Racing banner.

The 32-year-old has tasted success at the North West 200, TT and Ulster Grand Prix in 2019 so will be keen to complete the set by winning in the Far East.

Hickman's team-mate is record eight-time winner Michael Rutter, who will ride a MotoGP-based Honda RCV for the second year in a row as he aims to improve on his runner-up spot 12 months ago by securing a first win since 2012.

Hutchinson back after three-year absence

Ian Hutchinson is back at the meeting for the first time since 2016 following his latest bout of surgery and the Yorkshireman will be BMW-mounted for Robin Croft's Team Milwaukee by SMT Racing.

John McGuinness, the 2001 winner, rides a Ducati Panigale for the PBM Motorsport team, with David Johnson on board similar machinery with the PBM team for the first time after finishing seventh last year.

Gary Johnson, with eight top-five positions since 2009, partners Johnston in the Ashcourt line-up, with International Road Race Champion Davey Todd hoping to build on his ninth place on his debut last year.

Magherafelt's Paul Jordan and Dominic Herbertson team up again to form the Dafabet Devitt Kawasaki squad.

Saintfield's Davy Morgan is the other NI rider in the field, with the Republic of Ireland represented by Derek Sheils, Michael Sweeney, Brian McCormack and Steve Heneghan.