Rich OMG Yamaha’s Brad Ray remained in firm charge of the Friday Bennetts British Superbike timesheets this afternoon, fending off challenges from Peter Hickman and Jason O’Halloran to stay on top.
But it was bad news for team-mate Kyle Ryde who missed out on an automatic qualifying two spot, finishing the session in 17th place. He is joined in Q1 by Tom Sykes, Andrew Irwin, Danny Kent and Christian Iddon.
The championship leader went to the top of the times in the closing minutes of the session as the conditions continued to improve and the pace intensified, with the positions changing constantly in the closing moments.
Hickman was a rider also on a charge in the closing moments as he fired the FHO BMW into second place on his penultimate lap of the session, nudging a hard-charging Jason O'Halloran into third place on the leading McAMS Yamaha with 0.011s separating the teammates as Tarran Mackenzie held fourth position.
Just 0.007s separated Ryan Vickers from the defending champion ahead of him; the FHO rider had been in the leading position with four minutes remaining on the clock before the final flurry of improvements.
Glenn Irwin was sixth fastest for Honda Racing UK, just 0.008s ahead of former double champion Josh Brookes who had a strong start to his weekend with the MCE Ducati team. The Australian had also been at the top of the timing screens in the final ten minutes, but had to settle for seventh just ahead of Tommy Bridewell on the Oxford Racing Ducati.
Danny Buchan was ninth fastest for Synetiq BMW ahead of his home round of the season, edging out Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Racing Kawasaki’s Rory Skinner who completed the top ten.