There were two major highlights of the two-day Cadwell Park BSB on Wednesday and Thursday. The first was Shane Byrne, head down, full-gas with the HM Plant Honda, charging out of the Gooseneck.
The second was Ryuichi Kiyonari slamming his Honda through Hall Bends like he was on a last gasp qualifier for pole in a BSB round. Both of them were totally committed and clearly happy with the way their bikes were working. A far cry from the Spanish tests…
So timesheets weren’t obligatory to see that HM Plant Honda dominated the Cadwell test. Byrne and Kiyonari simply looked considerably quicker than their rivals and, in the absence of official timing, it was no surprise to see Shakey’s timesheet's showing a best of 1:27.2 and Kiyo’s just six tenths shy at 1:27.8. No one else even claimed to be in the 1:27.s.
In fairness some of the major opposition wasn’t even there. Swan Yamaha riders Tommy Hill and Michael Laverty were conspicuous by their absence. Josh Brookes only did the one day and was hampered early on by a niggling electronics issue with his Relentless by TAS Suzuki but later got down to 1:28.2.
John Hopkins was still in the States tying up some loose ends before the season kicks off here.
He was never scheduled to do the test and his Samsung Crescent Suzuki team only decided to take Jon Kirkham along at the last minute to give him more superbike seat-time.
The other thing to bear in mind though, was that some of the teams there weren’t quite up to speed for very valid reasons. Stuart Easton and Gary Mason still had superstock spec engines – and Mason had a diabolical dose of flu. So both MSS Kawasaki riders’ times are pretty impressive.
Likewise Michael Rutter’s Rapid Solicitors Ducati was only fitted with the fly-by-wire system late on Wednesday and it’s no five-minute job setting the bike up to suit the new electronics package.
Team-mate Martin Jessopp is still not fully fit so he just did laps on what is essentially a 2010-spec bike.
It was the first real test for the Motorpoint Yamaha team and it looked like James Westmoreland clicked straight off with the unique characteristics of the cross-plane crank R1.
Rivals predictably pooh-pooh’ed the team’s claimed lap times and said he looked on a knife edge (but in not such polite terms) but the fact was he said he felt confident from the outset and, if past history is any guide, he’s a methodical thinker and not some wild young gun. So he’s definitely an exciting prospect for the season.
Westy actually put Loris Baz in the shade but it was the Frenchman’s first taste of Cadwell so maybe that’s not such a surprise!
Testing continues for the Motorpoint team in Scotland this week while Tyco Honda are on track at Cadwell, along with the Rapid Solictors Ducati team.
Then there are two official BSB tests to come: at Brands on Tuesday, April 12, followed by the exciting all-new Snetterton on Wednesday, April 13.
1 Shane Byrne, HM Plant Honda, 1: 27.2
2 Ryuichi Kiyonari, HM Plant Honda, 1:27.8
3 Stuart Easton, MSS Colchester Kawasaki, 1:28.2
3 Josh Brookes, Relentless by Suzuki, 1:28.2s*
5 Jon Kirkham, Samsung Crescent Suzuki, 1:28.4
6 James Westmorland, Motorpoint Yamaha, 1: 28.4
7 Gary Mason, MSS Colchester Kawasaki, 1:28.5
8 Michael Rutter, Rapid Solicitors Ducati, 1:28.9
9 Loris Baz, Motorpoint Yamaha, 1: 29.4
10 Martin Jessopp, Rapid Solicitors Ducati, 1:29.6
*Only completed one day of testing