BSB 2011 – Round Ten – Donington Park
Free practice – session one:
1.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 1m:31.283s
2.Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +1.060s
3.Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +1.195s
4.Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +1.252s
5.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +1.436s
6.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +1.511s
Free practice – session two:
1.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) 1m:29.151s
2.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +0.548s
3.Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.749s
4.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) +1.074s
5.Jon Kirkham (Samsung Crescent Racing Suzuki) +1.732s
6.Josh Brookes (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +1.735s
Tommy Hill is determined to increase his slender seven points advantage in the chase for the MCE Insurance British Superbike crown which enters the first of three rounds of the Showdown for the title at Donington Park.
The Swan Yamaha rider was fastest in both of the free practice sessions at the Leicestershire circuit as he prepared for the first two of the seven races which will decide the outcome of the country’s premier crown.
“It feels good to be in our strong position but now it is all about being consistent and staying ahead of the other Title Fighters,” said Hill who best lap came in 1m 29.151secs, all but matching the lap record set by World Superbike series leader Carlos Checa in March.
Hill ran a little over a second faster than his team-mate and fellow Title Fighter Michael Laverty during the morning session with the Ulsterman losing any chance of reducing the deficit after sliding off without injury at Craner Curves.
Laverty was again well on the pace in the faster afternoon session, running second for much of the time to Hill who took over two seconds off his best lap times with a scorching lap at an average speed of 100.44mph.
Former MotoGP rider John Hopkins however put in a late burst to snatch second place on the leaderboard. The Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider who is aiming to become the first American to win the British title closed within half a second of Hill in the closing minutes of the session.
Shane Byrne who is aiming to add a third British title to his portfolio was consistently on the pace aboard his HM Plant Honda setting the fourth best time overall. He goes into these races determined to close the seven points deficit he has on Hill and despite running a second down on him is confident of more to come as the weekend progresses.
Local rider Jon Kirkham upset the form-book by running his Samsung Crescent Suzuki ahead of the fifth of the six Title Fighters Josh Brookes riding the Relentless Suzuki by TAS. The Aussie had to settle for sixth best time after crashing out without injury, at Redgate Corner in the afternoon session.
But the sixth of the elite riders who are in contention for the crown was the reigning champion Ryuichi Kiyonari who was struggling running his HM Plant Honda some 3.399secs down on Hill as he languished back in 20th place on the leaderboard.
Graeme Gowland riding for the WFR Honda team was the fastest of the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO class riders with his team-mate and series leader Glen Richards third, a split second down on Buildbase BMW rider Barry Burrell.
History was also made today at Donington Park as Gary Mason rode a MSS Colchester Kawasaki that has been developed to meet the 2012 series regulations, setting the twelfth best time and enjoyed his first day about the bike.
“It is nice to be the first rider to start the new era, it is a bit sad to say goodbye to the old girl but this newer model is much more aggressive; she is really feisty and doesn’t hold back – and I like that,” said a delighted Mason.