Peter Hickman claimed provisional pole for Saturday’s Suncity Group 53rd Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix with a dominant display on Thursday.
Hickman, who is seeking his fourth victory in the prestigious race in southern China, posted the fastest lap so far in the afternoon qualifying session.
The MGM by Bathams BMW rider lapped the 3.8-mile Guia course in 2m 25.100s, which put him 1.7 seconds clear of team-mate Michael Rutter on the Honda RC213V-S.
Hickman began the day in the same vein as he led the way in free practice by one second from Rutter.
John McGuinness maintained his impressive start to the event as he improved to third position and a provisional front row start on the Tak Chu Group by PBM Ducati V4. The Morecambe man, who is riding the Scott Redding’s British Superbike title-winning bike, was two seconds off the pace set by Hickman.
Australian David Johnson also had a fine ride on the second of Paul Bird’s Ducati machines as he went fourth fastest, half-a-second behind team-mate McGuinness.
Top European competitor Horst Saiger was next on his Yamaha R1 while Derek Sheils, riding for Northern Ireland’s Burrows Engineering/RK Racing Suzuki team, was a solid sixth.
Fermanagh’s Lee Johnston, who sat out the event last year, was seventh on the Ashcourt Racing BMW ahead of Davey Todd (MGM by Penz BMW), who is competing at Macau for only the second time.
Michael Sweeney (MJR BMW) was 15th in front of Ian Hutchinson, who is back at Macau for the first time since 2016 on the Team Milwaukee with SMT BMW.
Waterford’s Brian McCormack finished the session in 17th on the ON-1 Racing BMW, with Paul Jordan in 18th on the Dafabet Devitt Kawasaki.
Final qualifying takes place on Friday ahead of Saturday’s 12-lap race, which is scheduled for 07:55 GMT.