By Barry Russell
Michael Rutter put the hammer down in Macau on his Riders Ducati this afternoon, leading the rain delayed qualifying session throughout and recording a best lap of 2m 23.794s, less than two tenths outside Stuart Easton's lap record.
He was chased in the first half of the session by Gary Johnson and Jeremy Toye, but it was 2001 Macau GP winner, John McGuinness, on the Roadhouse SMT Honda, who ended up second, 3.157 seconds slower than Rutter.
Ian Hutchinson was a further one second back from McGuinness, with Martin Jessop and Gary Johnson within one tenth of the Swan Yamaha rider. Behind Johnson's IGT Suzuki by TAS, American duo Jeremy Toye and Michael Barnes were sixth and seventh, while James Storrar completes the second row on the fastest BMW.
Rico Penzkofer leads the third row on the Penz13.com BMW from Conor Cummins, Steve Mercer, who was the last man under the 1:30 mark, and James Hillier.
The Padgetts Honda of Bruce Anstey is joined on the fourth row by the Penz13.com BMW of Horst Saiger, the Wilson Craig Honda of William Dunlop and the IGT Kawasaki of Michael Dunlop.
In the press conference that followed, Rutter emphasised how difficult the Guia Circuit is to ride quickly, particularly in the heat and high humidity that replaced the rain and praised his team.
McGuinness said making a good start in the race was vital to stop the Ducati from disappearing from the start and making a close race for first place. Ian Hutchinson declared himself happy with the way his bike was running and certainly seems comfortable on his adapted Swan Yamaha.
The rescheduled race, which has been reduced from 15 to 12 laps, is due to start at 1:45pm tomorrow and there will be a 30-minute morning warm-up starting at 7:30am.