Friday test session:
- Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 45.785s
- Josh Brookes (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.125s
- Stuart Easton (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.231s
- Chris Walker (Lloyds British GBmoto Racing Kawasaki) +0.312s
- Ryuichi Kiyonari (Buildbase BMW) +0.545s
- John Hopkins (Tyco Suzuki) +0.560s
- Simon Andrews (RAF Reserves Honda) +0.639s
- James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +0.646s
- Jakub Smrz (Millsport Ducati) +0.693s
- Dan Linfoot (Quattro Plant Kawasaki) +0.754s
A determined Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne got his assault for a record-breaking fourth MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship title off to the best possible start at his home round of Brands Hatch, edging out Australian Josh Brookes in the closing stages of the opening test session.
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Byrne, still smarting on missing out on the title in the final round of last season, was instantly on the pace throughout a closely fought session as he prepares for Easter Monday’s races in which he intends to extend his record of 51 race wins.
Byrne closed towards the record with a best lap of 45.785s, but the local hero was not totally satisfied and expects more as the weekend continues. He explained: “Generally speaking when I get on the bike I go out and enjoy it and go faster, but for some reason today it just didn’t click. We had things to try and we achieved that, but that said I am happy enough but there is still plenty of room for improvement.”
He had outpaced Brookes who switched to the Milwaukee Yamaha team during the winter by 0.125s. The Australian had been the early pace-setter in the session but was forced to relinquish the position in the final stages.
Brookes is also expecting improvements ahead of the opening two races, he said: “We made changes to improve the bike, but, that also meant we made sacrifices in some areas and now we have to compromise. As a whole to come in P2 to Shakey is less than satisfactory, but having done 34 laps on the same tyre, in hindsight, I should be happy.”
Flying Scot Stuart Easton, back in the top class as Byrne’s team-mate, fresh from winning last year’s Motorpoint British Supersport crown, set the third fastest time ahead of Chris Walker on the Lloyds British GB Moto Kawasaki.
Ryuichi Kiyonari, also bidding to take the MCE BSB title for a fourth time, settled quickly into a rhythm with the Buildbase BMW, to set the fifth fastest time, a split second up on the returning American John Hopkins. The Tyco Suzuki rider is aiming to avenge missing out on the crown by just 0.006s to Tommy Hill back in 2011.
Josh Waters was 17th on the charts while Mitchell Carr put his Kawasaki into 20th out of the 32 strong field.
Alistair Seeley (Yamaha) topped the Supersport session ahead of four Triumphs, including South Australia’s Billy McConnell.
Jason O’Halloran was fastest overall in the Superstock 1000 category, Danny Buchan was the top of the five Kawasaki men topping the charts in Superstock 1000 riders Group A. Glen Richards was 9th n the Padgetts Honda while David Johnson was 12th quickest in Group A.
Yamaha mounted Andy Reid led the British Superstock 600 field. Levi Day finished day one third overall while James Mutton was 23rd in the 42 rider field.