Shane Byrne and Danny Buchan thrown down gauntlet as Superbikes hit Snetterton
- Credit: Archant
By his own very high standards it's been a difficult start to the defence of his British Superbike crown, but Shane Byrne reminded everyone that he is still the man to beat when he broke his own lap record in the second free practice session at Snetterton on Friday afternoon.
With just two minutes of the allotted time left he took the Paul Bird Motorsport Ducati to the top of the timing sheets ahead of Saturday afternoon's all-important qualifying, which will determine the starting line-up for Sunday's two races.
Honda Racing's Jason O'Halloran, who took his maiden series win at the Norfolk venue 12 months ago, once again showed his liking for the circuit by setting the second quickest time, just ahead of Smith's BMW-mounted Peter Hickman.
The 29-year-old from Louth, who recently claimed five podium finishes from five starts at the Isle of Man TT, proved that he is one of the few who is equally adept on both road and purpose built tracks. But he admitted afterwards: 'Snetterton is a circuit I always crash at, and I nearly did it again when the front wheel tucked at Palmers corner.
'Hopefully this year I can stay upright and secure two podium finishes and move into the all-important top-six positions for a place in the end of season showdown.'
The Swaffham-based RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki team were rewarded for some hard work between the two practice sessions when their rider Jake Dixon moved to fourth in the standings, just one place ahead of championship leader Luke Mossey on the JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Norwich-based Morello Racing had a superb day in the National 1000cc Superstock class. Series leader Danny Buchan was untouchable on the immaculately-prepared Kawasaki, lapping within 0.2 of a second of his own lap record, and Fraser Rogers came within a 10th of a second of taking the team bragging rights to make it a one-two for the team.
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Thetford's Ryan Vickers impressed on his first outing on a new 2017 model Yamaha in the Superstock 600cc class when he set the fifth fastest time. The 18-year-old is in his rookie season on the national stage and after top-five places at earlier rounds is looking for his debut podium.