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Paul Bird Motorsport rider Glenn Irwin laid down the gauntlet to the opposition in determined style when he qualified on pole position for tomorrow morning’s Sun City Group Macau Grand Prix 51st Edition.
On only his second visit to the 6.12km Circuito Da Guia having come so close to a podium on his debut last year, the 27 year old from Carrickfergus in County Antrim topped the opening free practice session on the factory-supported Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R which is branded as TAK CHUN Racing by PBM/Penz13 Ducati whilst out in the Far East.
Irwin continued his domination throughout qualifying with a lap time of 2m 23.081 to shatter the previous best qualifying lap of Michael Rutter set in in 2010 and was indeed over half a second under Stuart Easton’s existing lap record set on Paul Bird’s Kawasaki in 2010. Eventually emerging over 1.8 seconds ahead of winner for the past two years Peter Hickman, Irwin is the first rider from Northern Ireland to start the race from pole position since Phillip McCallen in 1996.
Team-mate for the week, Manxman Dan Kneen, struggled in the early stages with set up on his first ride aboard the Be Wiser Ducati Panigale R but the 30 year old from Braddan eventually upped his pace and will start the 12-lap race from 11th on the grid.
Although the weather forecast isn’t favourable, the race is scheduled to start on Saturday at 15.40 local time (07.40 GMT) with live streaming available online although no TV coverage is scheduled in the UK.
Glenn Irwin (TAK CHUN Racing by PBM/Penz13 Ducati #4)
“For the main qualifying session, the team worked hard overnight even though we had a nice advantage after the opening one and it meant I turned up with another setting in the bank which proved to be better once again. I am really happy, I have learnt so much about riding the Superbike that will help me for next season. But for now, we need to concentrate on this race and I’m feeling confident as this week, I believe, is the best I have ever ridden a motorcycle. It's awesome.”

Photo courtesy: Sports Bureau of Macao