Lee Hardy Racing returned earlier this week from the Macau Grand Prix which gave Gary Johnson a strong sixth place finish on the Briggs Equipment Kawasaki ZX-10RR although the meeting was tragically overshadowed by a serious accident involving Daniel Hegarty who sadly succumbed to the injuries sustained.
The accident happened on the sixth of the scheduled 12 laps when 31-year old Hegarty, the 2016 Isle of Man TT Privateers Champion, suffered a high speed crash at Fisherman’s Bend. The race was immediately red flagged and the loss of the Nottingham rider left the tight-knit racing community deeply shocked and saddened.
Lee Hardy: “Our thoughts are obviously with Dan’s family and friends at this moment in time and they have our utmost support during this difficult period; if there’s anything we can do for them we will. Dan was a terrific rider and I got to spend some time with him at the meetings this year, especially at Macau, understanding what made him tick and what his thoughts were on his racing. He was a very thoughtful, intelligent young man who was extremely talented and it’s a very sad loss to our sport.”
In the race itself, Lincolnshire’s Johnson was hoping for a good start from the fourth row of the grid and that’s exactly what he got, ending the first lap in seventh place. Battling on the roads with David Johnson, Lee Johnston and Dean Harrison, Gary found his way past his namesake on lap five to move up to sixth and soon closed the gap to fifth placed Conor Cummins before the race was stopped due to the tragedy.
Lee Hardy: “Gary did a great job for us all week and I’m full of admiration for how hard he worked throughout. Together with the team, they cured a few issues we’d been having with the bike in BSB and the combination of racing on the roads and having someone as experienced as Gary on the bike helped with the development of the ZX-10RR and that will hopefully enable Jake (Dixon) to make further strides forward in 2018.”
“We were the only team I think to go with the softer Metzeler tyre as we felt we could get it to last the full race distance and once Gary got by DJ, he got his head down and dipped into the 2m26s bracket which enabled him to pull back the gap to Conor. I think fourth was a possibility if the race hadn’t ended in the sad way that it did but it was a strong effort by both Gary and the boys in the garage with Glen (Richards) and Ben (Stafford) doing a great job at their first road race meeting.”
Johnson added; “I got the good start to the race that I wanted and settled in behind Davo as I had a few issues in the first couple of laps but after that everything felt great and as soon as I got by him, I closed in on Conor and Martin (Jessopp). I was pleased with sixth but when a race finishes in the manner that it did, the result pales into insignificance. Dan was a great rider with so much more to give and I’d like to pass on my deepest condolences to his family and friends – it’s a big blow to the sport.”
The field go through Lisboa Corner on the first lap.