Martin Jessopp snatched pole position for the 50th running of the Macau motorcycle Grand Prix after a thrilling fight with Michael Rutter in qualifying on Friday.
Rutter had been on provisional pole position and joined the rest of the field in spending the first half of the 45-minute final qualifying session steadily building up his pace as they completed race simulation runs.
But after the front runners switched on to fresh rubber for their proper qualifying efforts, it was a stunning lap from Jessopp on his Riders Motorcycles BMW with less than three minutes remaining that moved him to the top of the timesheets.
Rutter, who has earlier gone down the escape road at Lisboa, tried to respond but a few tenths lost in dealing with traffic on his last effort meant he missed out on the pole spot by just more than one tenth of a second.
Jessopp reckoned he could have quicker, although thinks that tyre management will be more important to success in Saturday's race than out-and-out pace.
"It feels good but there were some mixed emotions when I pulled into the pitlane because I got held up on my final lap," he said.
"But as we saw last year, qualifying doesn't mean much - it is just where you start the race. It's all going to be about the tyres tomorrow - and if we can not destroy the soft one then I think we will be alright."
Rutter agreed that everything remained open despite missing out on the pole position slot.
"We had a good session yesterday and we knew we would have to be quicker today," he said. "Being top three or four after the start will be important, and then it will just be a case of settling into it - because tyre wise it is going to be hard work."
Macau rookie Glenn Irwin left it late to snatch an impressive third place on the grid – ahead of Gary Johnson and Stuart Easton.
The only major incident in the session was when Horst Saiger crashed his Kawasaki on the exit of Lisboa. But he was able to recover and qualified sixth in the end.