Shane Byrne half-a-second clear of Haslam on Friday at Assen
Josh Brookes fourth while Jason O’Halloran 12th after crash

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne threw down the gauntlet to his MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship rivals on the opening day at Assen, heading off standings leader Leon Haslam by 0.554s ahead of tomorrow’s Datatag Qualifying.

Leon Haslam
Leon Haslam

Peter Hickman had set the pace in the opening session this morning ahead of Byrne, but the Be Wiser Ducati rider was back at the top this afternoon, setting the fastest lap of the weekend so far to stay ahead of Haslam at the chequered flag.

John Hopkins surged up the times in the final stages of the session to fire the Moto Rapido Ducati into third place as Josh Brookes edged up to fourth place for the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha team.

Josh Brookes
Josh Brookes

Jake Dixon had been running outside the top ten for the majority of the session, but on his final run he moved into the top ten and soon into the top five for the RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki team, nudging ahead of Sylvain Guintoli on the Bennetts Suzuki.

Dan Linfoot was the fastest of the Honda Racing’s contenders in seventh place ahead of Peter Hickman who only completed 11 laps after a crash, he was unhurt but there was extensive damage to the Smiths Racing BMW.

James Ellison was ninth fastest ahead of Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon with wildcard Richard Cooper just missing out on the top ten for Bennetts Suzuki.

Cooper has swapped his Superstock machine for a GSX-R1000 Superbike this weekend in a one-off retro livery inspired by the original GSX-R750F. Cooper’s GSX-R1000 features a classic blue and white Suzuki design, while the National Superstock 1000 Championship challenger is also wearing a special matching set of retro RST leathers.

Richard Cooper - Retro livery for Suzuki GSX-R1000 at Assen
Richard Cooper – Retro livery for Suzuki GSX-R1000 at Assen

Richard Cooper

“There’s no pressure on us this weekend. From a setup perspective, we’ll approach it like we do any other weekend and work through things one-by-one. But it’s also a chance to try some other options and other settings without the pressure of results so much. Things that maybe the team has been reluctant to try with Taylor or Sylvain to this point. We can experiment a little more. But that said, I also want to achieve two strong results and I think we can. We started thinking about doing something special with it. As good as bikes like the new GSX-R are, I also really like the retro stuff, too, and the colours we’ve gone for just scream ‘classic Suzuki’. That whole scene is very popular now, I rode the Team Classic Suzuki Katana recently – which was good – and the team has also got an immaculate GSX-R750F. That bike’s the real showpiece for Suzuki, so basing the design on that just seemed like a nice fit for this weekend.”

Richard Cooper - Retro livery for Suzuki GSX-R1000 at Assen
Richard Cooper – Retro livery for Suzuki GSX-R1000 at Assen

Jason O’Halloran was the sixth of the Showdown contenders in 12th place after he also crashed out unhurt during the session.

Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – Be Wiser Ducati

“We started with the bike pretty much how we finished with it here last year. After the first few laps we made a few changes and the bike felt good. This morning was quite cold so we did most of it on the hard tyre and we were quick which is important. On the softer tyre with the extra grip I had a few issues, but the boys fixed that for this afternoon and the bike felt good. There are a few things we want to try tomorrow morning in FP3, but we want to win the races on Sunday that’s for sure.”

Shane 'Shakey' Byrne - Be Wiser Ducati
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne – Be Wiser Ducati
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen, Free Practice 1
  1. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 1m:37.247s
  2. Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.145s
  3. Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.374s
  4. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki) +0.430s
  5. Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.467s
  6. Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) +0.496s
  7. James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +0.535s
  8. Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +0.546s
  9. Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) +0.769s
  10. Glenn Irwin (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.096s
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Assen, Free Practice 2
  1. Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 1m:36.136s
  2. Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.554s
  3. John Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) +0.570s
  4. Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha) +0.620s
  5. Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) +0.796s
  6. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki) +0.863s
  7. Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) +0.881s
  8. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +1.125s
  9. James Ellison (McAMS Yamaha) +1.210s
  10. Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) +1.285s