Defending Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix winner Stuart Easton will start on pole position for Saturday's 43rd running of the Far East Classic - despite not improving during second qualifying.

The 26-year-old Scot set a record-breaking 2min 25.476sec during Thursday's first qualifying session, but managed only a 2min 29.475sec on Friday. As a result, although he kept pole, his advantage was reduced from 1.636sec to 0.837sec.

PBM Kawasaki WSBK Team's Conor Cummins improved from fourth place on Thursday to be Easton's nearest rival, the 23-year-old racer from the Isle of Man dropping his best lap time by an impressive 1.432sec in the process.

36-year-old Briton Michael Rutter, looking for his record-breaking seventh win in the event, was demoted from second to third on the grid by Cummins. Rutter's Team of Paris-AXA Racing Kawasaki suffered a misfire for most of the session and finally broke down on his final lap of qualifying.

Easton, Rutter and tenth placed Stephen Thompson were the only Superbike riders to lap slower on Friday.

Another British rider, Ian Hutchinson (PBM Kawasaki), was fourth fastest to complete the front row of the grid for the 15-lap race, 0.361sec behind Rutter and 1.997sec from Easton.

Veteran Michael Barnes made it three PBM Kawasakis in the top five, 0.348sec behind Hutchinson, after finally getting what he described as his first good nights' sleep since leaving his Florida home.

German Rico Penzkofer lost one position during final qualifying, but sixth was still an impressive effort for the BMW Macau Racing Team rider - and he was only 0.133sec behind Barnes.

Easton's team-mate and fellow former Macau winner John McGuinness was seventh fastest, having improved by 1.398sec.

It was very close in the Supersport 600 Class with the fastest three riders all covered by less than a quarter of a second.

Frenchman Amaury Baratin (Team of Paris-AXA Racing Triumph 675) was fastest, but only by four hundredths of a second from Joao Fernandes (Yamaha) from Macau.

Cheung Wai On, the 28-year-old racer from Hong Kong, was third fastest on his new Kawasaki.

Combined qualifying:

1. Easton
2. Cummins
3. Rutter
4. Hutchinson
5. Barnes
6. Penzkofer
7. McGuinness
8. Hinterreiter
9. Johnson
10. Thompson
11. Andrews
12. Toye
13. Miller
14. Carreira
15. Mercer
16. Muteau
17. Saiger
18. Hillier
19. Jensen
20. Pearson
21. McBride
22. Storrar
23. Buckley
24. Baratin (SS)
25. Fernandes (SS)
26. Cheung (SS)
27. Magalhaes (SS)
28. Sou (SS)
29. Ip (SS)
30. Broome (SS)