Bathams-SMT BMW’s Michael Rutter put his thousands of years of experience at the Macau Grand Prix to top the opening practice session today ahead of last year’s runner-up Martin Jessopp with the ever-improving Horst Saiger in third place.
Rutter put in a 2’27.022 on his penultimate lap to grab top spot but is only 0.336s ahead of Jessopp’s Riders BMW. The West Country rider set a 2’27.358 on his 15th lap of 16 while Kawasaki-mounted Saiger is more than two seconds off the pace on a 2’29.291.
“The track is very clean, but it’s very, very hot,” said Rutter. “I did as many laps as possible to get a feel for the tyres. It was a good session.”
Tyco BMW’s Ian Hutchinson put in a 2’29.513 on his tenth lap to secure fourth place, one ahead of road legend John McGuinness in fifth place. Stuart Easton was the second of the Bathams/SMT riders in sixth with Gary Jonson in seventh. Irishman Glenn Irwin put the Be Wiser Ducati in eighth on a 2’23.100 while reigning champion Peter Hickman ended in ninth, one ahead of Conor Cummins.
2016 team champion Briggs BMW have fielded Steve Mercer this year and they finished the session in 11th place, one ahead of Dan Cooper. Didier Grams, Dan Kneen and Derek Sheils completed the top 15.