Round one – Brands Hatch Indy Circuit – 22-25 April
Top six times, free practice one:
1: Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) 45.687s
2: Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.081s
3: Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.088s
4: John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +0.186s
5: Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +0.259s
6: Dan Linfoot (Sorrymate.com Honda) +0.302s
Top six times, free practice two:
1: Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 45.499s
2: Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.008s
3: Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +0.032s
4: Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +0.037s
5: John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +0.229s
6: Dan Linfoot (Sorrymate.com Honda) +0.295s
Tommy Hill held off the fierce challenges of his Swan Yamaha team-mate Michael Laverty to top the free practice time sheets after two closely fought sessions on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit ahead of the Easter Monday opening round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.
Hill, still suffering some discomfort from the arm injury sustained during testing the previous weeks at Snetterton, piled in the laps as he dialled in his bike to the demands of the short, fast circuit, running race distances at a scorching pace.
The best lap came towards the end of the afternoon session as Hill nearly matched the four year old circuit lap record as he powered in a lap of 45.499secs, an average speed of 95.57mph, but even then, he was under fire as Laverty closed to within 0.008secs of him.
“That was hard, hot work but I needed to put in as many laps as I could both in Friday’s test and then these sessions as before that I had only done a dozen laps on the bike in the previous eight weeks,” explained Hill.
“The bike feels good, the race settings are good although I think we can still do a bit to the electronics to improve. I’ve worked on a race distances and this circuit is very physical to ride and my arm is a bit sore, but I will get some ice on it and it will be fine,” added Hill.
Laverty is equally pleased with progress made, although he was also under pressure to maintain his position from the HM Plant Honda duo of the reigning champion Ryuichi Kiyonari and the former two times title winner Shane Byrne – they both crossed the line within 0.037secs of Hill.
American John Hopkins was fifth fastest on the Samsung Crescent Suzuki with a best lap of 45.728secs, while Dan Linfoot excelled climbing up the leaderboard in the generally faster afternoon session into sixth place aboard the Sorrymate.com Honda, ahead of MSS Colchester Kawasaki rider Stuart Easton and French teenager Loris Baz aboard the Motorpoint Yamaha.
Gary Mason on the second MSS Colchester Kawasaki and Josh Brookes aboard the Relentless Suzuki completed the top ten while Lincolnshire rider Alex Lowes topped the times in the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class, powering in a lap in 46.352secs aboard his WFR Honda.
Simon Andrews was second fastest in the EVO class, 46.440secs on the PR Racing Kawasaki, heading off the other two WFR riders Glen Richards and Graeme Gowland.