Grid locked in: Martin Jessopp swipes pole from 'The Blade' in Macau Motorcycle GP
Briton aiming to go all the way and clinch the Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix title this time as he beats 'king' Rutter to the No 1 spot on grid
Martin Jessopp was given a blessing from "the king" earlier this week and he duly rose to the occasion, a nerveless display of precision riding yesterday ensuring he will start Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix from pole position.
Eight-time winner - and the undisputed King of Macau - Michael Rutter had declared Jessopp as one of the riders to watch in what is a star-studded field gathered for the 49th edition of the event - and the Blade showed once again he knows what he's talking about when it comes to spotting riders with what it takes to tame the tricky 6.2km Guia circuit.
Jessopp, suiting up for Riders Motorcycles BMW, got hotter the longer yesterday's morning qualifying session went and his fastest time of 2.24.387 was too much for even Rutter to handle, the Penz13.com BMW Motorrad Motorsport by MGM China rider settling for second on today's grid in front of Briggs Equipment BMW's Peter Rickman.
It was a first for Jessopp, and the man was beaming.
"I've had a couple of front rows here before, but never pole and with the gap I had to second place and the rest it's just great," he said.
"The track was a lot quicker this morning than it was yesterday. The temperatures were down so the tyres were bad but that's the same for everyone. I just managed to get some clear laps at the start and started firing again at the end."
The 30-year-old Brit finished second here behind Rutter in 2011 and last year produced a ride for the ages in coming from eight on the grid to eventually take third behind Stuart Easton and that man Rutter.
"It's just a track I enjoy riding," explained Jessopp. "It's a short circuit and it's a track like I ride in the British Superbike Championship. but obviously they don't have the walls there. It just seems to suit my style and the more times I come here the more comfortable I seem to get."
Rutter's blessing came after the veteran had watched his rival steadily improve across the British championship this year - and Jessopp said had been learning from the best there is going.
"It's by far the toughest domestic championship in the world so I know if you can keep battling with those guys there, when it comes to the roads, those races stand you in good stead," said Jessopp.
"That's shown with Michael Rutter up there in second today and Peter Hickman in third. They'll be tough to beat tomorrow."
Rutter was playing it low key coming into practice, but as always the bike gave the game away. He's fit, he's in form, and he'll be gunning for win number nine.
"It felt good out there and I am happy with how everything is going," said Rutter who rides a BMW for the first time.
Jessopp, meanwhile, knew exactly the way he had planned as he prepares for the big day.
"I'll just hide away and chill out," he said. "I'll try and keep my heart beat nice and low for the rest of the day and hopefully get a better night's sleep. None of us can sleep here.
"Every morning it's the first thing every rider asks you - how much sleep you got. It might be the stress and the nervousness but I only woke up twice last night so that was good.
"Pole gives me the chance to hopefully get a good start and I've never ever had a good start here. I don't think I've ever been in the top five after the first lap. Hopefully I'll be in the lead at the first corner and take it away from there."