PBM’s Stuart Easton has closed right in on Michael Rutter after the first Macau Grand Prix qualifying session, cutting the gap from 2.1s to just three tenths as the pair both slashed their laptimes.
Milwaukee Yamaha’s Rutter led first practice from Easton and cut his time to a 2’27.669, lopping off a second but lap-record holder Easton is right on his case with a 2’28.000 as he also found almost three seconds.
Martin Jessopp, on the Riders BMW, moved up to third place with a 2’30.247 but the West Country man is some 2.5s slower than Rutter with last year’s winner Ian Hutchinson, on the second PBM Kawasaki in fourth but less than a tenth further back.
Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness occupies fifth place, just ahead of Austrian Horst Saiger with the returning Gary Johnson in seventh. Scotland’s Jimmy Storrar is eighth, Lee Johnston ninth and and Jamie Hamilton rounds out the top ten.
Macau rookie Peter Hickman put his Ice Valley BMW in 11th, one ahead of Didier Grams while Stephen Thompson, Steve Mercer and Dan Cooper complete the top 15. But Hickman was unlucky to drop his Ice Valley by Motorsport BMW at Teddy Yip Bend on the last flying lap of the session, and tenth-placed Jamie Hamilton (Wilson Craig Honda) was even luckier to bail out just before he joined in with Hickman’s incident. Both riders walked away as the chequered flag was being waved at the startline but it is not known if they will enter second qualifying.