Eight-time winner Michael Rutter produced a flying late lap to top the opening practice session at the 50th Suncity Macau Grand Prix.

Rutter, riding the Bathams/SMT BMW, knocked Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW) from the head of the time sheets after setting his best time in 2m 27.022 seconds.

Jessopp, who has finished as the runner-up on three occasions at Macau, was three tenths behind while Horst Saiger started strongly on his Kawasaki, taking third as he completed the morning session, 2.2 seconds back on Rutter.

Tyco BMW's Ian Hutchinson was next up in fourth ahead of Honda Racing's John McGuinness, while Scotsman Stuart Easton rounded out the first six on the Bathams/SMT BMW. Easton, the lap record holder around the 3.8-mile Guia course, was 4.6 seconds off team-mate Rutter's fastest lap.

Lincolnshire's Gary Johnson ended the first practice session in seventh place on the Penz13.com BMW, while Ulsterman Glenn Irwin impressed on the PBM Be Wiser Ducati, slotting into eighth as the British Superbike prospect makes his debut at the event. Irwin's fastest lap on the Panigale was five seconds off the top spot, but on this evidence, there is plenty more to come.

Last year's race winner, Peter Hickman, finished ninth on another of the Bathams/SMT BMW machines while Manx rider Conor Cummins completed the top ten (Honda Racing) ahead of Steve Mercer and Dan Cooper.

Irishman Derek Sheils was 15th fastest as he makes his Macau bow on John Burrows' Cookstown B.E. Racing Suzuki, one place in front of Ivan Lintin on the RC Express Kawasaki.

 

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