Belfast Telegraph

Rutter leads from the front in Macau

By Roy Harris

The Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix takes place early tomorrow morning and after the first qualifying session, 12-times North West 200 winner Michael Rutter of Team of Paris-AXA Ducati is in provisional pole position with a lap of two minutes 25.245 seconds.

Rutter sits two-tenths ahead of 27-year-old Stuart Easton who is riding for the Paul Bird Motorsport WSB Kawasaki Team.

Rutter’s lap was less than a tenth of a second outside Easton’s outright lap record set last year on his way to his second win at the Macau Grand Prix.

Easton, from Hawick in Scotland, who had a podium on his debut at the North West 200 back in May, is chasing his third successive victory around the Armco-lined 3.8mile street circuit just off the coast of mainland China.

Rutter, sixth in this race last year, will be determined to beat Easton this time around and take his seventh victory tomorrow in order to become the most successful rider ever on the Guia Circuit. American Jeremy Toye, who has also competed at the North West 200 and Isle of Man TT, was two seconds behind in third position with Simon Andrews fourth on his MSS Colchester Kawasaki.

Fifteen-times TT winner and Mountain Circuit outright lap record holder John McGuinness ended the 45-minute qualifying session held in dry, sunny conditions in fifth position while his new Honda team-mate for the 2011 road racing season Keith Amor completes the top six in a one-off ride for the PBM Kawasaki Team.

Local rider Stephen Thompson of MSS Colchester Kawasaki finished the session in twelfth position one place ahead of Australian Cameron Donald who recently re-signed for the Relentless Suzuki by TAS Team for 2011.

This is the 44th running of the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix and for the first time is included in the Duke Road Race Rankings, the only series to recognise season long performances on road circuits already won by Ryan Farquhar, who has not made the trip to the Far East, for a record fifth time.

In fact this is the first time this prestigious series has included a round outside the British Isles.

Also included in the strong line-up of competitors tomorrow are Gary Johnson, last year’s fourth place finisher James Hillier, James McBride, Mark Buckley and Dan Kneen, a double race winner during Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week in August.

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