Ryuichi Kiyonari returns for his attack on a fourth MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship title and kicked off the season by setting the free practice pace at Donington Park ahead of the Easter Monday opening round.
Record-breaking four-time champion Shane Byrne, despite hand and ankle injuries sustained in a testing crash last month, mounted a late challenge in the afternoon, closing his PBM Kawasaki to within 0.010s of Kiyonari.
The Japanese rider however held on to top spot on the leaderboard despite crashing late on in the second session at Coppice Corner, moments after setting his fastest lap of the day, 1m 30.106s, around the Leicestershire circuit.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, P1 in free practice: “Lap by lap the feeling with this new bike was getting better, the feeling is different, but we understand it. Towards the end of the session I was trying something different with speed and braking and I was too fast into the corner. It was a mistake, but I have good speed.”
James Ellison is well placed to challenge them having set the third fastest time of the day on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki while Aussie Billy McConnell, the winner of the Motorpoint British Supersport crown last season, rode strongly on the Smiths BMW, on his return to the top flight category.
Christian Iddon, defying a bout of gastro-enteritis, was closing McConnell down, but had to settle for fifth fastest on his debut with the Bennetts Suzuki team, just edging ahead of Josh Brookes, whose Milwaukee Yamaha team-mate Broc Parkes completed the top ten.
Josh Brookes, 6th, 1m:30.71s – “I was a bit surprised to be second this morning because the bike is still a long way from where it can be in its current form. We are expecting the bike to get better as the year goes on as it is a new, I didn’t feel I was trying too hard and it wasn’t behaving perfectly.
“This afternoon for the greater good we have made changes, which weren’t good for this afternoon’s timing sheet but the idea is to work out where we can improve and move forward. It has to be tried to see the effect and ultimately to go quicker you have to try polar extremes to see what difference it makes and then use the information.
“In a way we sacrificed a session this afternoon, but we have tried left and right of where we are to improve. Now we have to fine tune and leave options to adjust ready for qualifying. It’s not dramatic; we have just been trying different things. It felt like doing homework today but it was a valuable and will put us in a better position for tomorrow.”
Broc Parkes, 10th, 1m:30.944s – “I am pretty happy with things today. The bike felt better, but we will keep chipping away with it. I feel like now, when I have to put it on the line I am more comfortable to give that bit extra. After the test session here last week we discussed a plan to move forwards and we have worked much better and I have felt more comfortable straight away with the improvements we have made. We have not had to push for it today – I knew that I was little cautious in the morning but now we will be ready to roll for qualifying tomorrow so we are in the best position we can be for the races on Monday.”
Sandwiched between them were Flying Scot Stuart Easton on the second PBM Kawasaki, Howie Mainwaring riding the Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki and James Westmoreland on the second JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Tommy Bridewell was another faller in the session, he tipped off the Tyco BMW at Redgate unhurt, to end the day 14th.
Jason O’Halloran was 18th quickest on the Honda Racing Fireblade while countryman Josh Waters piloted the Bennetts Suzuki to 21st. David Johnson was 33rd on the MotoDex BMW.
Kyle Ryde topped Supersport FP2 on a Yamaha ahead of Kawasaki mounted Glenn Irwin. A triumvirate of Triumphs followed headed by Luke Stapleford. Levi Day was 5th quickest on the CPE Kawasaki while Guy Martin turnd in the 21st quickest time on his return to British Supersport on a Smiths Racing Triumph.
Adam Jenkinson put his Superstock 1000 Yamaha YZF-R1 on top of the timesheets ahead of Joshua Elliott and Michael Robertson, both Kawsaki mounted. Alastair Seeley was fourth quickest on the Tyco BMW.
Mason Law topped Superstock 600 QP1 for Kawasaki ahead of Ross Twyman, Brad Jones, Andrew Irwin while Australian Benjamin Currie rounded out the top five in an encouraging start to the season on the PacedayZ Yamaha.
BSB 2015 – Round One – Superbike FP1 & FP2 Combined Times
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.