Byrne topped the times as Kiyonari had a resurgent opening day

Byrne topped the times as Kiyonari had a resurgent opening day

Shane “Shakey” Byrne packed the first punch in the opening MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship free practice sessions at Knockhill as the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki ace stormed to the top of the times, taking advantage of a crash from Alex Lowes in the closing stages of the afternoon to move ahead.

The reigning champion, who is aiming to overturn the single point deficit he has on current series leader Lowes, managed only a handful of laps in the morning session at the Scottish circuit, but was up to speed later, closing the gap to just 0.001 seconds before then edging faster in his final run on track.

Byrne explained: “A potential problem cut short our first session after half a dozen laps, but the team changed engines. It’s been a case of starting afresh, we’re chasing our tails a bit, but we are getting there or thereabouts now, but will be looking for more.”

Byrne’s best time came minutes after Lowes made a rare error, crashing his Samsung Honda at the Hairpin, but there were only 0.096 seconds between them. Lowes is ready to bounce back tomorrow, commenting: “That’s my first crash of the year – I made a mistake running into the corner a bit too fast, but hopefully that’s my crashes out of the way now.

“Apart from that moment, I’m enjoying the track although Shakey is obviously the man to beat as once again he has shown in only a few laps he can be well up to speed. Last year this was one of my worst tracks to ride, but I am comfortable this year and well on the pace, so I am happy,” added Lowes.

Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Brookes, preparing for races in which he hopes to reduce the 20 points deficit he has on the leading duo, set the third best time, barely a tenth of a second ahead of the Lloyds British GB Moto Honda riding Peter Hickman and Buildbase BMW’s James Westmoreland.

Ryiuchi Kiyonari, refreshed from a trip back home to Japan, was second fastest to his team-mate Lowes in the morning session and maintained the pace, setting the sixth best time in the afternoon session which was twice red-flagged as first Martin Jessopp and then Keith Farmer crashed.


Free practice one:

1: Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 48.969s
2: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +0.388s
3: Peter Hickman (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +0.531s
4: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.613s
5: James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +0.690s
6: Dan Linfoot (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +0.707s

Free practice two:

1: Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) 48.774s
2: Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.096s
3: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.564s
4: Peter Hickman (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +0.629s
5: James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +0.751s
6: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +0.852s

For more information please visit www.britishsuperbike.com

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