Shane Byrne and Danny Buchan thrown down gauntlet as Superbikes hit Snetterton

Morello Racing's Danny Buchan. Picture: Barry Clay

Morello Racing's Danny Buchan. Picture: Barry Clay - 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.

Superbikes star Shane Byrne. Picture: Barry Clay

Superbikes star Shane Byrne. Picture: Barry Clay - Credit: Archant

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.

British Superbikes come to Snetterton. Picture: Barry Clay

British Superbikes come to Snetterton. Picture: Barry Clay - Credit: Archant

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.

Morello Racing's Danny Buchan. Picture: Barry Clay

Morello Racing's Danny Buchan. Picture: Barry Clay - Credit: Archant

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.

Superstock 600 racer Sam Thompson - down but not out. Picture: Barry Clay

Superstock 600 racer Sam Thompson - down but not out. Picture: Barry Clay - Credit: Archant

'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.'

Sidecar action at Snetterton. Picture: Barry Clay

Sidecar action at Snetterton. Picture: Barry Clay - Credit: Archant

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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