The 39-year-old Briton, aboard the RidersMotorcycles Ducati 2100 took pole with a lap of 2:23.794, just eight hundredths of a second off his scorching 2010 qualifying time.
Second fastest was John McGuinness on the Roadhouse SMT Honda 1000. The fellow Briton, who last took victory on the 6.2km Guia Circuit ten years’ ago, was more than three seconds slower than Rutter. Ian Hutchinson, continuing his strong return to competition, was third fastest on the Swan Yamaha 1000.
The fastest of the record five American entries was Jeremy Toye, third at Macau last year, on the IGT Kawasaki Racing Team1000 machine, who was 6th quickest, followed by Michael Barnes on the Attack Performance Kawasaki 1000.
Despite his convincing session, Rutter, who is gunning for a record-setting seventh win at Macau, played down its significance. “Even though my time was similar to last year, it means nothing. We have to wait until tomorrow and the race to see if I really can win,”
McGuinness was plagued by traffic during the session, but was satisfied to be starting alongside Rutter on the grid having been unable to better his rival’s best time. “Every time I got close, Rutter did a better time,”
All the riders were pleased to get the 45-minute qualifying session underway after rain had disrupted the race programme on Friday and Saturday morning. The City of Dreams Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix – 45th Edition will be run on Sunday afternoon, with a 30 minute morning warm-up session scheduled.
Macau Grand Prix, Top 5 Qualifying.
Michael Rutter (RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati) 2:23.794s
John McGuinness (Roadhouse SMT Honda) +3.157s
Ian Hutchinson (Swan Yamaha) +4.117s
Martin Jessopp (RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati) +4.197s
Gary Johnson (IGT Suzuki by TAS) +4.220s