Peter Hickman claimed pole position for Saturday’s 52nd Macau Grand Prix with a superb lap of 2’23.904s on the Aspire-Ho by Bathams Racing BMW in Friday’s second qualifying session putting him over a second clear of team-mate Michael Rutter with Martin Jessopp (Tak Chun Group Ducati) joining them on the front row.
With slightly overcast conditions and an air temperature of 24ºC, it was Rutter who made the early running on his Honda RC213V-S from David Johnson (PR Racing BMW) with the eight-time winner immediately dropping into the 2m28s bracket.
He continually improved his times over the next three laps and after 15 of the 45 minutes, he led Jessopp, Hickman, Gary Johnson, David Johnson and Danny Webb, the latter again impressing as he had done on the opening day.
Both Rutter and Hickman dropped into the 2m25’s next time around, with Rutter four tenths quicker and it was Webb who jumped up to third on the Penz13.com BMW that took him to this year’s IRRC Superbike Championship. Jessopp and Gary Johnson slipped back to fourth and fifth with Horst Saiger moving up to sixth on his Yamaha R1.
Hickman was just getting into his stride though and after getting to within 0.025s of Rutter’s time, a lap of 2m25.022s sent him to the top of the leaderboard some 0.330s clear. The top six remained the same but John McGuinness on the second PBM Ducati was up to seventh with Derek Sheils and Sam West also moving into the top ten.
With ten minutes to go, Jessopp moved back ahead of Webb for third but it didn’t last long as Gary Johnson put the Briggs Equipment Kawasaki provisionally on the front row. But all eyes were on Hickman who had gone back out on track and was setting the best sector times all the way round the 3.8-mile circuit.
Indeed, his final flying lap of 2m23.904s – four tenths quicker than his previous personal best lap - put him a more than healthy 1.448s clear of Rutter before the latter improved in the dying moments to bring the deficit down to 1.140s.
There was change further back as Jessopp pushed Johnson off the front row with Webb and Saiger completing the second row. David Johnson ended seventh overall just ahead of McGuinness with Sheils and West confirming their solid performances in ninth and tenth respectively.
The quickest newcomer was again Davey Todd (Penz13.com BMW) with an impressive time of 2m29.423s placing him 11th whilst Finnish rider Erno Kostamo and Paul Jordan were the next best debutantes in 16th and 17th.