Macau GP: Sizzling Irwin claims pole with unofficial lap record
1AM UPDATE: A technical issue with the timing system means the times from Qualifying 2 are unofficial. The organisers have yet to post any official results.
Glenn Irwin dipped under Scottish rider Stuart Easton’s seven-year-old lap record to claim pole position for Saturday’s 51st Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.
The Ulster rider completed a clean sweep of practice and qualifying on the PBM Ducati take the top spot with a stunning lap of 2m 23.081s. Easton, who won the famous Chinese street race four times, holds the official lap record with a time of 2m 23.616s.
Irwin is making only his second appearance at the event but the Carrick man will now go into Saturday’s race as the favourite on the back of a dominant performance. The 27-year-old is the first rider from Northern Ireland to seal pole at Macau since Phillip McCallen in 1995.
He topped Qualifying 2 by 1.8 seconds from Peter Hickman (SMT Bathams BMW), who is bidding for a third consecutive win around the 3.8-mile Guia course.
Manx rider Conor Cummins claimed a front row start on the Padgett’s Honda as the Ramsey man posted the third fastest time in 2m 25.55s, leaving him 2.4 seconds down on pole man Irwin.
Eight-time winner Michael Rutter slipped to fourth on the SMT Bathams BMW after finishing second fastest in practice and first qualifying. Rutter’s time of 2m 26.959s was 3.8 seconds adrift of pacesetter Irwin, with Martin Jessopp next in fifth on the Riders Motorcycles BMW.
David Johnson (BMW) rounded out the top six followed by Lee Johnston, who improved significantly on the BMW HP4 to go seventh. Horst Saiger (Kawasaki), Derek Sheils (Cookstown Burrows Suzuki) and Dan Kneen (Penz13.com BMW) were the top ten.
Republic of Ireland riders Michael Sweeney and Steve Heneghan qualified 21st and 26th respectively, while Davy Morgan was 27th.