Leon Haslam topped the times after the opening day of the 2017 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship as the home hero set the pace in the afternoon free practice session as defending champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne ended his practice prematurely with a technical problem.
Haslam had finished second to Byrne in the morning session, but in the afternoon the times began to tumble and he surged to the top of the times, just holding off his team-mate Luke Mossey by 0.132s at the chequered flag.
Haslam said: “The opening day here has gone really well. We have done a full race run on both the soft and harder tyre options. We are looking good for the weekend and I think we just need to carry the momentum into the sessions tomorrow.”
It wasn’t the perfect start to his title defence for Byrne; the five-time champion had topped the times in the opening session, but in the afternoon a technical problem ended his track time with just over 20 minutes remaining on the clock.
Byrne said: “That was a little bit frustrating really for us. Where the sessions are closer together now, for the second session the silicone we used to seal the casing didn’t have enough time and I went out and rode, but basically it started to seep and that was the problem.”
It was a strong start to his return for Josh Brookes; the 2015 champion instantly running inside the top three on his debut with the Anvil Hire TAG Yamaha team and holding third position ahead of Peter Hickman on the Smiths Racing BMW.
James Ellison leapt up the order in the closing stages of the session to move fourth for McAMS Yamaha ahead of John Hopkins, who had run inside the top four before a crash at Craner Curves ended his session early in the final ten minutes of second practice.
Sylvain Guintoli had a welcome return to the championship holding seventh place for the Bennetts Suzuki team ahead of Glenn Irwin and Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon in ninth after he also crashed unhurt at Craner Curves.
Byrne completed the top ten as he dropped down the order in the final stages of the session ahead of rookie Bradley Ray, who had been running inside the top ten, finishing ahead of Davide Giugliano and Michael Laverty. The top Honda Racing contender was Jason O’Halloran in 14th position.
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Donington Park, free practice one:
MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship, Donington Park, free practice two:
For more information visit www.britishsuperbike.com