Michael Rutter began his quest for a ninth victory at the Macau Grand Prix in ominous fashion as he topped the first free practice session on the SMT Honda.

Rutter, the most successful rider in the history of the famous road race in the Far East, took the top spot by more than two seconds.

The British Superbike veteran led the way from Scottish rider Jimmy Storrar, setting a best lap of 2m 27.489s.

Horst Saiger from Austria was third fastest ahead of Isle of Man TT star John McGuinness on the Honda TT Legends Fireblade, with the returning Ian Hutchinson next on the Milwaukee Yamaha, over four seconds slower than Rutter's benchmark.

It was an impressive first showing for Hutchinson, whose last competitive outing was at the Isle of Man TT in 2012.

Martin Jessopp, who has finished as the runner-up at Macau on his last two visits, was sixth fastest (2m 32.121s) ahead of Gary Johnson on the Quattro Plant Honda (2m 32.598s).

Johnson encountered machine trouble in the session as his bike caught fire.

Jeremy Toye from the USA and Stephen Thompson from Northern Ireland were the top eight.

Aussie David Johnson was 11th fastest on the PR Kawasaki ahead of Manx rider Dan Kneen.

Ian Lougher, competing in his final race before hanging up his leathers for good, was 20th on the ILR/Barnes Honda.

Newcomer Dean Harrison was 32nd on the RC Express Racing MSS Kawasaki.

 

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