Rutter on provisional pole for Macau Grand Prix

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Eight times Macau Grand Prix winner Michael Rutter is on provisional pole for this year’s race after topping the times in today’s opening qualifying session. Riding the Milwaukee YZF R1 Yamaha that Ian Hutchinson steered to victory last year, the 43 year old finished just 0.3 seconds ahead of Stuart Easton on the PBM Kawasaki with a time of 2.27.699.

Martin Jessop (Riders Motorcycles BMW) was third fastest and Hutchinson was fourth on Shakey Byrne’s BSB title winning PBM ZX10 after a late evening session on the 3.8 mile Guia circuit.

“I am lucky to be at front.” Rutter said after 45 minutes of qualifying.

“That has to be one of the worst sessions I’ve ever had around here- everything I tried didn’t quite go to plan!”

Rutter, who won his first Macau back in 1998, set his fastest time early in the session on a race tyre.

“I did a few laps on the race tyre and then I pulled in and put in a qualifier but I had no grip at all. So I put the race tyre back in and then we got a puncture!”

A lack of grip was a common complaint from most of the pack.

“Grip levels are low and lap times are down for everyone.” Stuart Easton complained after finishing second fastest on his first trip to Macau since his North West 200 crash in 2011. 

 “I got held up quite a lot too.” the former three time winner said.

“We have a few changes to make and I am really looking forward to final qualifying tomorrow morning.”

Martin Jessopp admitted he was “a long way off” after finishing 2.5 seconds behind Rutter in third. The Riders Motorcycles BMW man also complained of grip issues. 

“It took me a while to get my head into it as the grip just wasn’t there.” he said.

“I came in and sat down for ten minutes and then just went back out and rode round to enjoy myself.”

Crashes during the practice for the four wheel brigade meant the street lights were on by the time the bikes took to the track for their first of two qualifying sessions.

“Some of the neon lights on the hotels are really bright on the run down to Mandarin!” Ian Hutchinson laughed after finishing fourth fastest. Last year’s winner had made lots of bike changes throughout the morning’s free practice and qualifying.

“It is going OK, we’re just chipping away.” he said afterwards.

“There has been a lot of resurfacing and it has made the track massively bumpy.” was John McGuinness’s view after he finished fifth fastest on the ProBolt Honda.

“There are a few white lines that need burning off as well as they are causing some big slides.”

Austria’s Horst Saiger prevented British riders making it a clean sweep of the top ten places after he finished sixth quickest on his ZX10 Kawasaki.

Stephen Davison

By Stephen Davison

Biographer of John McGuinness & road racing's foremost writer & photographer