Peter Hickman stormed to pole position for the 53rd Suncity Group Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix on Friday to underline his status as the red-hot favourite as he chases a fourth victory in Saturday’s race.
Riding the MGM by Bathams BMW, Hickman topped free practice and both qualifying sessions at the 3.8-mile Guia circuit on the S1000RR and will take all the beating in the 12-lap finale to the 2019 roads season in southern China.
His time of 2m 25.100s secured pole on Friday, albeit by just two-tenths-of-a-second from team-mate and eight-time Macau winter Michael Rutter (MGM by Bathams Honda RC213V-S).
Rutter, who last won at Macau in 2012, finished as the runner-up behind Hickman last year and will be aiming to go one better as he rides the MotoGP-based Honda for the second year.
Impressive Aussie David Johnson completes the front row after a strong performance on the Tak Chun Group by PBM Ducati.
Johnson, making his debut on a Ducati at Macau, lapped in 2m 26.093s as he claimed third place in the grid, just over half-a-second back on Rutter.
His team-mate, 23-time Isle of Man TT winner John McGuinness, heads up the second row following a lap in 2m 26.252s, where he is joined by Northern Ireland’s Lee Johnston (Ashcourt BMW) in fifth. The top six was completed by Horst Saiger (Yamaha R1).
Emo Kostamo (MGM by Penz BMW) had a very strong session as he qualified seventh ahead of Gary Johnson (Ashcourt BMW) and Phil Crowe (Handtrans/Lee Jackson BMW).
Ian Hutchinson was ninth fastest overall on the Team Milwaukee by SMT Racing BMW as he makes his return to the event for the first time since 2016.
Didier Grams (G&G Motorsport BMW) and Davey Todd (MGM by Penz BMW) rounded out the first 12 on the time-sheets.
Derek Sheils was the leading Republic of Ireland rider in 13th on the Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki ahead of Brian McCormack from Waterford (ON-1 Racing BMW).
Michael Sweeney (MJR BMW), Steve Heneghan (reactive Parts Ducati V4S) and Ulsterman Paul Jordan (Dafabet Devitt Kawasaki) were 17th, 18 and 19th respectively, while Saintfield man Davy Morgan qualified in 26th on his DM71 BMW.
The race on Saturday is scheduled to start at 07:55 GMT.