Lee Johnston claimed fifth overall at a shortened Macau Grand Prix in China last weekend. The race was hit by two separate red flags incidents with the results declared final after just one lap of the restarted race, but Lee was awarded a top five spot to equal his best ever performance on the street circuit.

Lee was on board his new Ashcourt Racing BMW Motorrad S1000RR and although he has missed the event last year he was quickly back towards the front of the 27 rider strong grid, posting a sixth fastest time in the first practice session.

Lee then started the two part qualifying session with a seventh place finish, but improved to fifth in the second session to secure a place in the middle of the second row for the race start.

With the race scheduled for 12 laps it was Peter Hickman who bolted into an early lead.

He opened up a huge seven second advantage over the rest of the chasing pack after three laps, with Lee part of the chasing pack in fourth place behind Michael Rutter and David Johnson.

Organisers were forced to bring out the red flags on lap four after a collision between Rob Hobson and Marek Cerveny, and once the debris was cleared from the track the race was restarted with a shortened eight lap version.

From the second start Michael Rutter took the lead with Lee Johnston back in fifth.

At the end of lap one Rutter continued to lead from Hickman, with Hickman then sneaking into the lead under braking on lap two. Johnston was still well positioned in fifth place but the battle was cut short again after a six bike pile up brought the red flags out once again.

With daylight fading organisers decided to declare the results as final, and the classification was taken from the end of the first completed lap.

That decision left Rutter as the victor, with Johnston avoiding the carnage to claim fifth after a frustrating day’s riding.

“Obviously, my first thoughts are with all the riders who tipped off today and I wish them all a quick recovery so it’s a bit odd to have a race result declared after just one lap,” said Lee.

“Given the circumstances, the result in a one-lap race is a bit immaterial as we had barely got going but I’m really disappointed to have ended the week in fifth as I don’t think it truly reflects our pace or where we were at.

“The changes we made to both the chassis and the electronics after the first day paid dividends as I had a good feeling during second qualifying to move up to fifth so I was looking forward to the race.

“In the first start I got off the line well to get away with the front group and I felt really comfortable sitting behind Michael and David but then the red flag came out and in the re-start I didn’t get away as well.

“I got mired in the pack a bit and then the second red flag came out and that was that.

“Fourth, or even a podium, was on the cards today but, like I say, I’m glad all the boys are going to be ok and I’m really happy with my first run on the 2019 BMW so it bodes well for next year.”