Michael Rutter dominated the opening qualifying session for the Macau Grand Prix in China today by setting a lap that was more than 1.5 seconds faster than anyone else in the field.
Chasing his ninth Macau win the Birmingham rider put the same SMT Honda Fireblade he rode to victory in the 2012 race on provisional pole ahead of John McGuinness on the Honda TT Legends machine and Martin Jessopp on the Riders BMW.
“They can run the race now if they want to!” Rutter laughed after the Thursday afternoon qualifying session.
“I did my fastest lap on the race tyre and then we put in a qualifier but I lost a bit of time because of a red flag incident.”
“We are making some changes to the bike at the moment that are aimed at making it easier to ride over a 15 lap race. It is still a bit harsh at the front over the bumps and we are caught a bit between gears on some corners too so we are trying to smooth those things out now.”
John McGuinness rode almost all of the qualifying hour on his own, starting from the back of the field but he posted a time towards the end of the session that was good enough for second.
“I don’t like to be mixed up in a group, especially in practice.” he explained.
“I know where I am going so I don’t really need a tow and I like a bit of space around me.”
Although the red flags came out when Ben Wylie crashed his Ice Valley/Motorsave BMWat Fisherman’s the session continued after he was taken to hospital for a scan on his knee.
Ian Hutchinson is back in action at Macau for the first time since the Isle of Man TT in 2012 and he was impressively fast with fourth place on the Milwaukee Yamaha R1.
The final qualifying session will take place at 7.30am on Friday morning Macau time, 8 hours ahead of UK time.