BSB 2011 – Round Five – Knockhill
Hill fastest on day one as BSB hits Scotland
Free practice one:
1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 53.327s
2. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.249s
3. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +0.417s
4. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +0.642s
5. James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +1.121s
6. Glen Richards (WFR Honda) +1.254s
Free practice two:
1. Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 52.810s
2. Loris Baz (Motorpoint Yamaha) +0.310s
3. John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +0.464s
4. Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.584s
5. Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +0.627s
6. Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki) +0.758s
Tommy Hill set the pace in the wet opening free practice sessions at Knockhill and now feeling less pain from his injured shoulder is ready to challenge for race wins in the fifth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.
The Swan Yamaha rider was comfortable at the Fife circuit, putting in a high number of consistently fast laps despite the difficult conditions, setting the best time in each of the sessions before securing the top spot on the combined leaderboard with a lap at 86.66mph, a time of 52.810secs.
“It’s been a day, a good start and we’ve had to make very few changes to the bike – I’m feeling comfortable and we are going in the right direction,” explained Hill.
“My shoulder is OK, it is playing up a little, but if you want something and I want success in these races then you have to get on with the job. I am aware of the shoulder and its problems but I am not letting it bother me.
“You have to remember they said the healing time was six weeks, but that was six weeks of rest, not me training, testing and working, but I am not whingeing on about it. I keep telling myself you are up there at the top of the timesheets so that can’t be bad,” added Hill who is currently fourth in the standings.
Like his rivals Hill is aware of the importance of consolidating his position among the top six riders in the overall standings as only they will go into the title-deciding races in the Showdown. “I need good points and get back to winning races to score the all important podium credits,” added Hill.
French teenager Loris Baz ran his Motorpoint Yamaha second fastest, barely a quarter of a second down on Hill with former MotoGP race-ace John Hopkins racing the circuit for the first time third fastest on the Samsung Crescent Suzuki. Michael Laverty, riding the second Swan Yamaha, was fourth fastest, 53.394secs, but striving to achieve more rear grip.
Series leading Shane Byrne brushed aside any memories of the painful highside of his last race here as he took his HM Plant Honda to fifth fastest as he prepared to add to his three race winning tally. “It’s been fun, or as fun as it can be in the wet,” said Byrne who ran marginally faster than his team-mate, reigning champion Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Josh Brookes riding the Relentless Suzuki was sandwiched between the two Hondas on the leaderboard as Gary Mason on the MSS Colchester Kawasaki set the eighth fastest time ahead of the best of the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class riders Simon Andrews riding the Buy-Force.com PR Kawasaki.
Glen Richards was second fastest in the EVO class on the WFR Honda from the Moto Rapido Ducati in the hands of Scott Smart.
– HM Plant Honda Report
The HM Plant Honda team are feeling confident after the opening day of free practice at Knockhill ahead of this weekend’s fifth round of the British Superbike Championship.
Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne leads the standings ahead of the weekend and after running fastest early in the sessions he ended the day fifth after encountering traffic in the closing stages of free practice two. Ryuichi Kiyonari was seventh and feeling confident that he can improve his pace again tomorrow ahead of qualifying at a track that has bought him victories in the past. In the Superstock 1000 Championship Jason O’Halloran was eleventh fastest in the opening qualifying session, with the HM Plant Honda team working hard to find the optimum setting ahead of the second session tomorrow.
Shakey said: “Today has been fun; or as much fun as you can have in the rain at Knockhill! I was leading the first practice session towards the end but then we had a couple of small issues so I didn’t complete the last part so we dropped down to third. We changed the engine for the second session, just to be on the safe side, and it worked well. We just made a few adjustments to the chassis settings and we were definitely heading in the right direction. We just went out there got into a good rhythm and I thought I could go faster but I just got caught in some traffic and that was that really, but that said today was just practice and we know what we can improve again tomorrow so I have to thank the HM Plant Honda boys for their hard work today.”
Kiyo said: “For me today has been a good day. It might not look like that on the timesheets in seventh, but we have made improvements with the set up and I am feeling more confident that I can push harder than at the last rounds. Every session and every run on track we moved forward a little bit and I think we can be faster in both wet and dry conditions as the setting should work for both. I would of course prefer dry but I am happier and now need to focus on qualifying tomorrow.”
Jason said: “We have just been trying to find a good set up today and we have been struggling with rear grip in the wet every time we get on the throttle. We just need to sit down and work out how we can change it for tomorrow as we need to be up there in qualifying ahead of the race on Sunday.”
HM Plant Honda team manager concluded: “It hasn’t been an easy start to the weekend for the HM Plant Honda team with the difficult conditions, but it is the same for everyone. It looks like the rain might stay so we need to find a good setting should it remain wet and both Shakey and Kiyo are feeling that they are heading in the right direction. For Jason the team have been making various changes and hopefully tomorrow we can make the improvements needed to move up the order in the second qualifying session.”