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Nov 14, 2013

Rutter On Provisional Pole Position For Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix (Updated)

Star River-Windsor Arch Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix: Michael Rutter (1) leads Gary Johnson (5) and James Storrar (15) during provisional qualifying. Photo used with permission of Macau Grand Prix Committee.

Eight-time race winner Michael Rutter topped provisional qualifying for the 47th edition of the Star River-Windsor Arch Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix, Thursday, in Macau, China, by lapping the 3.8-mile Guia Street Circuit in 2:25.975 on his Metzeler-shod SMT Honda CBR1000RR.

Rutter quickly improved upon his time from Thursday morning practice, 2:27.489, with a 2:27.100 within the first 12 minutes of the 45-minute qualifying session. Then with less than 20 minutes, the 41-year-old Englishman found enough clear track to rip off a 2:25.975, which stood up to earn the provisional pole position. And getting that time in the books on the first day is always important, according to Rutter.

“You never know what the weather is going to do or if the track’s going to get oiled down, and we know people can go quicker,” said Rutter, “I’ve got 1.5 seconds over the other guys now, but that can go away quickly. That’s why we wanted to do that today.”

Second-best on the day was former Macau GP winner John McGuinness, who did a 2:27.503 on the same Dunlop-equipped Honda TT Legends CBR1000RR that he used to win the Senior TT at the Isle of Man earlier this year.

“I tried a few things today with the bike,” said 41-year-old McGuinness, “But I was just getting a feel for the track, really. This is a funny place, kind of like the TT Circuit. You have to get into a flow and relax. I got going pretty good, and then I got a clear lap toward the end. I’m happy with that. Obviously, Michael in the man to beat, but there are four or five of us real close to each other. The key is qualifying on the front row, getting a good start, being aggressive on the first laps and trying to hang with Michael.”

Martin Jessopp, the runner-up in the last two races at Macau, qualified third with a 2:27.567 in spite of it being his first time on the Guia Street Circuit on his Metzeler-fitted Riders Motorcycles BMW S1000RR British Superbike.

“We came here with our setup from BSB, and the setup was a mile off,” Jessopp told “We kept changing things all day and it’s been getting better, but we’ve still got some work to do. That’s as fast as that setup is going to go.”

Ian Hutchinson, the 34-year-old Briton who won five races at the Isle of Man TT in 2010, finished the day with the fourth-quickest time, 2:28.183, on his Dunlop-shod Milwaukee Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike in spite of it being his first day in competition in 18 months.

“I did the North West 200 and [Isle of Man] TT in 2012, and I haven’t raced since,” said Hutchinson, who badly broke his lower left leg near the end of the 2010 season. When he returned to action at the end of 2011 he had to start shifting with his right foot via a special linkage that runs through the swingarm pivot of his motorcycle. “The [tibia] bone in my leg got infected, and they had to take a portion of it out and put an external fixator on it to grow a new section of bone. My fitness is alright. I just need to get bike fit.”

After being second-best in Thursday morning practice, James Storrar slipped to fifth in qualifying even though he improved his time from 2:29.837 to 2:28.293 on his DMR Racing BMW S1000RR.

American Jeremy Toye said he made improvements to the chassis of his Pirelli-fitted BMW Racing Team S1000RR, but another factor in Toye dropping his time from 2:32.612 to 2:28.775 was he got a tow off of Rutter. The provisional pole-sitter said he was catching some slower riders and slowed down to build up a gap to them, and that allowed Toye to get in position to chase Rutter.

“I got my tires warm and went after him,” said Toye. “I’m pretty good in the first sector, so I knew if I could stay with him there I could really pick up some time in Sector Two. For sure it would’ve been a good lap anyway, but going around here you don’t just go bombing into corners on the brakes. It’s nice to have someone to gauge off of, and there’s nobody better to get a tow off of around here then Rutter.”

Mark Miller said he made some improvements to the setup of his Splitlath Redmond Racing EBR 1190RS, but those improvements did not translate to his lap time. Miller went slightly slower during qualifying (2:35.707) than he did in the first practice (2:35.387) and slipped from 13th to 20th in qualifying.

Miller’s teammate Brandon Cretu chopped over 2.5 seconds from his time in qualifying, going from 2:44.613 to 2:41.978, and he finished qualifying session ranked 31st out of 32 riders.

Ben Wylie crashed his Ice Valley by Motorsave Trade BMW S1000RR into the retaining wall at the exit of the Fisherman's Corner, a fast right-hander leading onto a long straightaway. Video replays showed Wylie got out of shape exiting the preceding turn, ran wide in Fisherman's and hit the barriers while still on his wheels. Wylie was thrown over the barriers and required medical treatment, according to an official incident report issued by race officials. Wylie's teammate Paul Shoesmith told that Wylie went to the hospital to have his left leg checked out but may ride again on Friday.

The final qualifying session for the Star River-Windsor Arch Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix is scheduled to take place at 7:30 a.m. Macau time on Friday, November 15.

Star River – Windsor Arch Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix 47th Edition Guia Street Circuit Macau, China November 14, 2013 Provisional Qualifying Session One Results:

1. Michael Rutter, UK (Hon CBR1000RR), Metzeler, 2:25.975 2. John McGuinness, UK (Hon CBR1000RR), Dunlop, 2:27.503 3. Martin Jessopp, UK (BMW S1000RR), Metzeler, 2:27.567 4. Ian Hutchinson, UK (Yam YZF-R1), Dunlop, 2:28.183 5. James Storrar, UK (BMW S1000RR), Pirelli, 2:28.293 6. Jeremy Toye, USA (BMW S1000RR), Pirelli, 2:28.775 7. Didier Grams, Germany (BMW S1000RR), Pirelli, 2:29.045 8. Horst Saiger, Austria (Kaw ZX-10R), Metzeler, 2:29.263 9. Gary Johnson, UK (Hon CBR600RR), Metzeler, 2:29.295 10. Stephen Thompson, UK (Suz GSX-R1000), Dunlop, 2:30.326 11. Dan Kneen, UK (Suz GSX-R1000), 2:31.029 12. Lee Johnston, UK (Hon CBR1000RR), 2:32.023 13. David Johnson, Austria (Kaw ZX-10R), Pirelli, 2:32.441 14. Roman Stamm, Switzerland (Kaw ZX-10R), Pirelli, 2:33.631 15. Dean Harrison, UK (Kaw ZX-10R), 2:33.712 16. Dan Cooper, UK (BMW S1000RR), Pirelli, 2:34.261 17. Marc Fissette, Belgium (Suz GSX-R1000), Pirelli, 2:34.527 18. Jamie Hamilton, UK (Hon CBR1000RR), 2:34.982 19. Herve Gantner, Switzerland (BMW S1000RR), 2:35.467 20. Mark Miller, USA (EBR 1190RS), 2:35.707 21. Steve Heneghan, Ireland (Kaw ZX-10R), 2:36.492 22. Davy Morgan, UK (Suz GSX-R1000), 2:36.686 23. Andre Pires, Portugal (Suz GSX-R1000), 2:37.069 24. Sandor Bitter, Hungary (Kaw ZX-10R), Metzeler, 2:37.467 25. Ian Lougher, UK (Hon CBR1000RR), 2:37.539 26. Paul Shoesmith, UK (BMW S1000RR), Dunlop, 2:38.493 27. Ben Wylie, UK (BMW S1000RR), 2:39.036, crash 28. Allann-Jon Venter, South Africa (Kaw ZX-10R), Metzeler, 2:39.483 29. Graham English, UK (BMW S1000RR), Pirelli, 2:39.562

Qualifying Maximum 110% of Fast Time: 2:40.572

30. Brian McCormack, Ireland (Hon CBR1000RR), 2:41.879 31. Brandon Cretu, USA (EBR 1190RS), Dunlop, 2:41.978 32. Nuno Caetano, Portugal (Kaw ZX-10R), 2:42.763

More, from a press release issued by BMW Racing Team:

Toye gets strong provisional 6th spot on the grid

Macau. The BMW Racing Team took of with a more than satisfying start to the Macau Grand Prix’ weekend in the Special Administrative Region of China: Jeremy Toye powered his BMW HP4 to a strong sixth spot, only 2.8 seconds down on pace setter and serial winner Michael Rutter at the front. Swiss rider Herve Gantner also impressed on his first outing at the Guia Circuit and brought his bike home in the Top 20s - P19 for him so far.

Toye already went quick during this morning’s free practice session despite sitting on the BMW HP4 of the team for the first time and lacking setup wise. The American rider classified for most of the session in the top 5 but had to drop to 8th during the end. But still this was a strong start to the Macau weekend for him after having missed last year’s meeting. Toye lost only 1 second to the top 5 at the end and only 5.123 seconds to Rutter. Team mate Gantner took his first impressions of the circuit and already placed 25th during the free session. At the end of the day both riders were happy as was team principal Rico Penzkofer, who decided to end his career here at Macau one year ago. Tomorrow, Friday, will host the second and final Qualifying, starting at 7 o’clock local time. Warmup and the 15 laps race are set to be held on Saturday.

Jeremy Toye, P6, 2:28,775 Min.: The biggest impression, which caught me, is the friendly motor of this bike. I have been on a handful BMWs on my self and I own some also, but the motor is always just a monster. But this one - how smooth the power delivery is and how easy it is to ride really took me off guard. Unfortunately chassis setup - the target for this place was definitely a bit too soft for us. It’s made the bike quite unstable in a lot of places and I had to back up and definitely charging the turns. But the guys keeps making adjustment and the bike gets better and better. If we can give us another 10 per cent on this thing, we will be with the front pack for a nice little fight. Other from that - this bike is nice, quick, handling good, just need to sort out the suspension side a bit.

Herve Gantner, P19, 2:35,467 Min.: Difficult. This morning I was lost on track but this is normal. When you watch videos before the event, everything looks so easy, but if you are in between the walls and houses by yourself, its f***’in hard! But I am getting there and the bike is also improving all the time. So far, so good.