Michael Rutter claimed provisional pole for the 47th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix as the SMT Honda rider set a scorching pace during opening qualifying.
Rutter, who also topped the first free practice session on Robin Croft's Fireblade, headed John McGuinness by 1.5s on the Honda TT Legends machine with a fastest lap in 2m 25.975s.
The veteran racer is seeking an incredible ninth victory at the Guia street course and has thrown down a big marker to his rivals in the Far East.
Martin Jessopp improved to third place on the Riders BMW with a time of 2m 27.567s as he narrowly missed out on the second fastest time to McGuinness (2m 27.503s), with Ian Hutchinson out the Milwaukee Yamaha in a superb fourth place (2m 28.183s) on his latest return from injury.
Jimmy Storrar and American Jeremy Toye completed the top six, followed by German rider Didier Grams and Horst Saiger from Austria.
Gary Johnson on the Quattro Plant Honda and Northern Ireland man Stephen Thompson were the top ten, followed by Manxman Dan Kneen and Lee Johnston on the East Coast Honda, who is making his second visit to Macau.
Aussie David Johnson was 13th fastest on the PR Kawasaki while Bradford rider Dean Harrison, competing at Macau for the first time, shot up the time sheets to 15th position on the RC Express MSS Kawasaki.
Irish road racer Jamie Hamilton was 18th on the VRS Honda with Ian Lougher 25th (ILR/Barnes Honda) as the Welshman competes in his final race prior to retirement.
The session was red-flagged for a short time and re-started again following an incident involving Ben Wylie, who was reported to have escaped serious injury.
Final qualifying takes place tomorrow ahead of Saturday's 15-lap race.
to view Qualifying 1 results