PBM Kawasaki’s Stuart Easton snatched pole position for this year’s Macau Grand Prix away from Michael Rutter with only a minute of the qualifying session left to run, going half a second quicker than the Milwaukee Yamaha man on his penulatimate lap.
Rutter had set the pace in practice and first qualfying - which was red-flagged early doors when Michael Sweeney walked away from a massive highside - and looked set to wrap up top spot but Hawick Easton had other ideas.
The little Scotsman went out hard and fast sticking in a 1’27.491 on his fifth lap but Rutter was not far behind, responding with a 1’27.821 of his own while the rest of the field trailed in their wake. Martin Jessopp snatched third place in the opening 15 minutes only to be replaced by Gary Johnson.
Austrian Horst Saiger then barged into third place with a 1’28.920 just as Rutter began his second run but had to content with yellow flags after Roman Stamm front-flipped his Kawasaki during a trip into the barriers.
It didn’t deter Rutter, however, as the Midlander re-took top spot with a 1’26.478. Easton’s team-mate Ian Hutchinson has been under the radar all weekend but his second run put him into sixth spot as Easton himself improved in time with a 1’27.718 and was fastest in sector two.
With six minutes left, Pirtek Honda’s Lee Johnston came from nowhere to bag third place on a 2’27.096 while Rutter followed Hutchinson around on the circuit and didn’t get another clear lap.
Easton did and stormed to top spot with a 2’25.975 but he is still more than two seconds off his own lap record. That may be broken in tomorrow’s morning’s race.
Hutchinson remained fourth behind Johnston but is some 2.3s slower than Easton while Scotland’s Jimmy Storrar also found a lap to haul himself up to fifth on a 2’28.506, demoting Saiger to sixth place.
Johnson, on the Quattro Kawasaki, is seventh with Jessopp eighth, Steve Mercer ninth and Isle of Man TT legend John McGuinness in tenth place, four seconds off the pace.
The top 15 is completed by Didier Grams, Dan Cooper, Stephen Thompson, Stamm and Marc Fisette. Neither Peter Hickman nor Jamie Hamilton took part following crashes in first qualifying. Hickman fell after his radiator sprung a leak and Hamilton slipped off on the same water. Neither were hurt.