Josh Brookes topped free practice at Oulton Park, with the 2015 champion claiming the fastest times at each of the opening two Bennetts British Superbike Championship free practice sessions at the Cheshire circuit, upping his pace in the afternoon to end the day with the edge over Danny Buchan by 0.723.
The opening session had been interrupted with red flags, but Brookes was unfazed and continued to improve his pace, despite Danny Buchan moving ahead several times during the opening free practice before the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki rider ended the session third fastest.
The 45 minute afternoon session saw all the positions change in the closing minutes with Brookes heading back to the top, positing a time on his final one that would cement his position at the top as he became the only rider to lap in the 1m:34s barrier, 0.723s ahead of Buchan.
“It has been a good day. I am not surprised with the lap time because I’ve been there before, or close to that. The fastest I’ve been here before was actually in a race and I did 34.4, which is a lap record, so to do 34.3 is a PB, which is great. But Jake Dixon did 33.7 last year so there’s still areas to gain and still room to improve. Without Jake being here on his bike from last year and showing what the gauge is, I don’t know if that’s even achievable. Maybe a 33.8 is possible, a 33.7 isn’t, I don’t know. At the moment I know that the bike’s not perfect, there’s definitely more edge grip to be found because I had it in this morning but we’ve gained a load of drive grip so I’ve got to decide which way is better – to go in search of more edge grip or ride with the bike as it is and work on other little details and see if that helps, so that’s where we’re at.”
It has been a strong session for the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki team with Buchan building on his experience at the recent test to maintain his position inside the top five with Peter Hickman again repeating his impressive performance on the Smiths Racing BMW to hold third place, having also had a stint at the top of the times in the earlier stages of the session.
Luke Mossey was again the fastest of the OMG Racing Suzuki riders, holding off Tommy Bridewell and Christian Iddon in the closing stages as he improved his pace on the final run of the second free practice session.
Earlier in the day Jason O’Halloran bounced back from his crash at last week’s test to finish fourth fastest in the opening session for McAMS Yamaha, holding off Tommy Bridewell who continued to move up the order for the Oxford Racing Ducati team.
Jason O’Halloran had to settle for seventh fastest in FP2 however, as the leading McAMS Yamaha as he bids to make amends this weekend after a double non-points score last time out at Silverstone, while Ryan Vickers continued to build momentum in his rookie campaign with the RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki team in eighth place.
Jason O’Halloran – P7
“It was nice to get back on the bike after the test last week. I feel good and my body is good. We’re just working through chassis settings and trying different things with the bike as I’m still learning about the Yamaha and looking to find the sweet spot around here. We learned a lot today and I expect to make a step forward in the morning, so I’m not too stressed.”
Tarran Mackenzie was back inside the top ten in this afternoon’s session holding off Keith Farmer who completed the top ten, edging out joint championship leader Josh Elliott, Bradley Ray on the leading Buildbase Suzuki and Scott Redding on the second Be Wiser Ducatis.
Ben Currie took P13 in FP1 , but while having a good session crashed at Shell and sustained a fracture to his left leg, and is currently undergoing checks on his leg and foot in Stoke Hospital.
Fraser Rogers also crashed during the opening session at Water Tower, sustaining a fracture to his right arm.
Jack Kennedy claimed the fastest times in both Supersport FP sessions, with a 0.653 lead over Alastair Seeley in FP2, and 1.142s gap to third fastest Brad Jones, while knocking 1.5s off his FP1 time, as the only Supersport rider to dip into the 1:37s.
Only Seeley and Jones clocked in the 1:38s in FP2, with Kyle Ryde next fastest in fourth, slipping from his FP1 result where he was second fastest overall, narrowly claiming the position from Jones.
“Great day one here at Oulton topping both sessions everything went to plan and we are ready for Qualifying and sprint race tomorrow.”
QUALIFYING LAP TIME (110.0% of 1:37.736) = 1:47.509
Tomás DE VRIES
Pirelli National Superstock 1000
Billy McConnell lead the Australian effort in the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 class at Oulton Park, claiming the fifth fastest time in FP2 with a 1:37.716, 0.840 seconds off Richard Cooper who topped the session, and was the only rider to dip into the 1:36s.
Taylor Mackenzie was next fastest in FP2, with Alex Olsen completing the top three.
Aussie Levi day was 10th fastest in FP2, 1.882s off Cooper, while fellow Australian Brayden Elliott was 34th with a 1:41.914.
Billy McConnell led the timesheets earlier in the day in FP1, setting a 1:37.366 as the fastest time, over half a second faster than Richard Cooper in P2.
Levi Day also started the day off faster, finish eighth on the timesheets, as did Brayden Elliot, in 28th after FP1.
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