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 1996.
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.
Eight-time winner Michael Rutter was third on the SMT Bathams BMW after finishing second fastest in practice and first qualifying. The 45-year-old lapped in 2m 24.973s.
Manx rider Conor Cummins impressed again on the Padgett’s Honda as the Ramsey man posted the fourth fastest time in 2m 25.55s, leaving him 2.4 seconds down on pole man Irwin.
Martin Jessopp, who has finished as the runner-up three times at Macau, was fifth fastest on the Riders Motorcycles BMW with Aussie David Johnson completing the top six, also BMW-mounted.
Lee Johnston improved significantly on the BMW HP4 to go seventh ahead of Horst Saiger (Kawasaki). Derek Sheils (Cookstown Burrows Suzuki) and Gary Johnson (Briggs Kawasaki) were the top ten.
Dan Kneen (Penz13.com BMW) was 11th, Ivan Lintin 16th on the Dafabet Devitt Kawasaki, and Dean Harrison 18th (Silicone Engineering Kawasaki).
Republic of Ireland riders Steve Heneghan and Michael Sweeney qualified 25th and 27th respectively, while Davy Morgan was 26th.