Jakub Smrz snatches top time as British Superbikes prepare for Snetterton
- Credit: Archant
Snetterton sizzled as the British Superbikes series prepared for round five of the season with an official test at the Norfolk circuit on Tuesday.
And it was Czech former World Superbike challenger Jakub Smrz who topped the day's time sheets on his Padgetts Honda, to reignite what had been a disappointing campaign to date.
The June conditions far more pleasant that the final pre-season test ahead of the 2013 competition, which saw cold temperatures render most of the teams' running useless.
And that made for some interesting reading as Smrz settled down as quickest of all in the final minute of the day's final session with the chequered flag flying in the Norfolk sunshine – a time understandably underlining the 30-year-old's blossoming love for Snetterton.
But the more usual suspects were not far behind, including young charger Alex Lowes and championship leader Shane 'Shakey' Byrne.
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'I was very happy with what we have done today,' said Smrz. 'I love the track because it is more like what I am used to compared to somewhere like Knockhill.
'I think the lap time could have been even faster but I made a few small mistakes on my last lap. I think though that we can leave this test happy as we have been able to do enough today and it will be important for when we come back here for the races.'
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With Josh Brookes, currently second in the championship standings, still away in Australia it meant his title rivals could at least get ahead in terms of preparation.
And the signs already look good for Byrne and Lowes, the former having won six of this year's eight races – two more will take place at Snetterton on Sunday week.
Byrne, whose best lap came in the morning running, is gunning for a record fourth British Superbikes title and also remains one of the most successful riders in the sport at Snetterton – all of which should make him favourite when the real action starts at the Norfolk circuit.
As for Lowes, he has his sights firmly set on climbing back on to the podium at Snetterton after edging the running on Tuesday.
'The season has been going well so far and I am enjoying riding more than ever before in my career,' said Lowes, in his first year with a factory team in Samsung Honda and who missed out on the podium for the first time in 2013 last time out at Knockhill.
'I made a mistake at Knockhill but we can come back from that and we want to stop Shakey from winning at Snetterton. There is no reason why we shouldn't be able to fight for the wins.'
• MCE Insurance British Superbike test, Snetterton – best times: 1 Jakub Smrz (Padgetts Honda) 1m 51.869s, 2 Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) +0.186, 3 Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.409, 4 James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +0.799, 5 James Westmoreland (Buildbase BMW) +0.914, 6 Chris Walker (Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki) +0.946, 7 Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +1.568, 8 Dan Linfoot (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +2.084, 9 Keith Farmer (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +2.123, 10 Peter Hickman (Lloyds British GBmoto Honda) +2.386.