The sweltering heat of a Macau afternoon provided a steamy setting for a dramatic battle for the top of the leaderboard between two of the Guia Circuit’s most experienced riders. Michael Rutter (Penz BMW) and John McGuinness (Honda) traded times and places as a series of other riders tried to get in on the act as well.
Martin Jessopp (Riders Motorcycles BMW) continually challenged the battling duo with fast times in each of the three sectors but never managed to put together the entire lap he needed.
Ian Hutchinson (Paul Bird Motorsport Kawasaki) closed in on the top of the leaderboard as the session went on but ended the afternoon in fourth place behind Jessopp, and a head of Gary Johnson (Penz13.com BMW Motorrad Motorsport by MGM China)
Horst Saiger (Saiger-Heidger Macau Race Team Kawasaki) was another who launched a sustained attack on the top spot, especially during the second half of a session split in two by a red flag after Russ Mountford (VRS Racing Honda) fell at Faraway.
The strong entry list meant that the rest of the top ten positions were the subject of a continual scrap and the chequered flag dropped on a leaderboard with riders like Lee Johnston (East Coast Construction BMW) and Conor Cummins (Honda Racing) still looking for something further up the ladder, but with another session in the cool of the morning in which to find the lap times they need.
Last year’s winner Stuart Easton (SMT/Booth Yamaha), recovering from injury, is yet to find his full confidence on a bike he has not ridden before.