Shane Byrne topped the first day of practice at Thruxton today for Bank Holiday Monday’s fourth round of the MCE British Superbike championship.
The HM Plant Honda rider set the pace with a 1:15.248 but admitted there was still work to do in tomorrow’s practice and qualifying sessions to ensure a good set-up for race day.
Byrne – a four-times BSB winner at Thruxton - said: "Straight out the box the HM Plant Honda worked well and I am feeling pretty happy. The bike is agile, in some places this morning a little too agile, so we have calmed the girl down, changed the shock and the ride height and now we are just trying to get the most out of the Pirelli tyres.”
Tommy Hill was just 0.27s off Byrne’s pace but the Swan Yamaha rider is still suffering some discomfort from the shoulder injury he sustained at Oulton Park.
Hill’s team-mate Michael Laverty set the third fastest time, while James Westmoreland was fourth fastest on the Motorpoint Yamaha with a lap in 1m 16.039secs - just a tenth of a second quicker than Tyco Honda’s Peter Hickman who continues to impress on the ex-HM Plant FireBlade.
Thruxton rookie John Hopkins acclimatized quickly to the superfast circuit and was sixth quickest on the Samsung Crescent Suzuki.
The American was marginally faster than the Rapid Solicitors/Bathams Ducati duo of Martin Jessopp and Michael Rutter with Jon Kirkham ninth fastest, despite a tumble late on in the second session at Goodwood.
Ian Lowry rode the Buildbase BMW into the top ten ahead of Chris Walker riding the Pr1mo Kawasaki and Loris Baz aboard the second Motorpoint Yamaha.
Alex Lowes, making his debut into the main championship as the replacement rider for the injured Stuart Easton in the MSS Colchester Kawasaki team, set the 13th fastest time three places ahead of his team-mate Gary Mason.
Defending champion Ryuichi Kiyonari continues to have a difficult time on the HM Plant Honda. He was 14th quickest, still chasing a set-up to boost his flagging confidence.
Free practice one:
1.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 1m:16.249s
2.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.400s
3.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +0.454s
4.Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +0.515s
5.Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +0.596s
6.Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +0.724s
Free practice two:
1.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 1m:15.248s
2.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.270s
3.Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.700s
4.James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +0.791s
5.Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +0.857s
6.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +0.904s