BSB: Byrne tops the timesheets in free practice
By Mic Archbold, Images by Full Throttle Imaging.
THE HM Plant Honda of Shane Byrne outpaced Swan Yamaha's Tommy Hill in both of today's Free Practice Sessions at Thruxton.
Byrne came out strong from the outset, putting in a series of fast laps straight away, beating the Swan Yamaha of Hill by a quarter of a second at the end of the second session.
Byrne has already won four outings at this Hampshire circuit, three of which were in his title winning years, and he is keen to build on his victory at Croft two weeks ago.
"The bike has worked well straight out of the box here so I am happy," he said. "It is agile, in places too agile around here! I love riding this circuit so I am looking for strong qualifying and then to win races."
Hill appeared to be much stronger after his shoulder injury sustained in the second round at Oulton Park. Although still suffering some discomfort he was able to put in some consistent lap times and plans to put his title chase back on track.
He finished a quarter of a second behind Byrne but believes there is much more to come from his bike.
Third fastest was the Swan Yamaha of Michael Laverty, who is hoping for a change in fortune this weekend.
James Westmoreland was fourth, a tenth of a second ahead of a strong performance from Tyco Honda's Peter Hickman rounding of the top five.
Currently sitting second at this early stage of the MCE BSB Championship is the former MotoGP rider John Hopkins. Having never raced this track before, he was able to quickly learn his way around it. He finished the day in sixth position, less than a second behind championship leader Byrne.
Allendale's Graeme Gowland returns from injury aboard the WFR Honda this weekend, still in pain he finished the day in 18th spot overall, and fastest of all EVO bikes.
Meanwhile Bishop Auckland's Barry Burrell ended in 29th, ninth in class.
Free practice in the SUNOCO British 125GP Championship saw Stockton's Richard Ferguson finish in 12th spot and Gateshead lad Chrissy Rouse wound up in 19th.
Joe Burns from Newcastle was 25th in the Metzeler National Superstock 1000 Championship first qualifying session.
Top six times from Free Practice at Thruxton.
Free practice one:
1.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 1m:16.249s
2.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.400s
3.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +0.454s
4.Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +0.515s
5.Ryuichi Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda) +0.596s
6.Martin Jessopp (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +0.724s
Free practice two:
1.Shane Byrne (HM Plant Honda) 1m:15.248s
2.Tommy Hill (Swan Yamaha) +0.270s
3.Michael Laverty (Swan Yamaha) +0.700s
4.James Westmoreland (Motorpoint Yamaha) +0.791s
5.Peter Hickman (Tyco Honda) +0.857s
6.John Hopkins (Samsung Crescent Racing) +0.904s