Leon Haslam stole the top spot in this morning’s opening Bennetts British Superbike free practice session with a last-ditch lap just 0.009s quicker than Glenn Irwin.
The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider set a 1’27.069s lap after the chequered flag flew, while Irwin, who had held the top spot all session long, crashed at the bottom of the mountain in the closing seconds.
Be Wiser Ducati’s Irwin was straight into the lead with his fifth lap as he clocked a 1’27.292, leading FS-3 Racing Kawasaki’s Danny Buchan as the pair led the pack into the 27s.
Moments later, Jake Dixon joined the party as he slipped ahead of Tommy Bridewell into third with his 1’27.881.
As the top four went to the pits for changes, local man Peter Hickman jumped from 11th to fifth on the Smith’s Racing BMW just before championship leader Haslam nudged Dixon back a place as he shot forward in the order to go third quickest.
Luke Mossey soon joined his team-mate in the top seven, but little was changing as the session crossed its half-way mark.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, however, Mossey and Haslam both moved up a place as Haslam slipped ahead of Buchan to go second fastest before Mossey moved up yet another place to sixth.
Buildbase Suzuki’s Bradley Ray, however, bolstered his top-10 standing by jumping from ninth to fourth with a 1’27.592.
Australian Jason O’Halloran flew the flag for Louth’s local squad Honda Racing as he moved into 10th with 17 minutes to go, slotting in just a tenth slower than Andrew Irwin.
But the younger Irwin brother didn’t stay in place long, and moments later he frog-hopped Hickman and Moto Rapido Ducati’s Bridewell to go seventh quickest.
RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki’s Dixon moved up to second moments later, but was still not fast enough to catch elder Irwin brother Glenn, who strengthened his hold on the top spot with a 1’27.078.
Little changed for the top riders as the clock wound down, but with less than three minutes to go Richard Cooper stuck in a 1’27.574s lap to go fifth quickest and with seconds left in his run, Haslam pipped Irwin for the top spot by less than a hundredth of a second, leading the Northern Irishman, Dixon and Buchan in the top four.
Ray and Bridewell ended the session sixth and seventh fastest, while Mossey, Andrew Irwin and McAMS Yamaha’s Josh Brookes completed the top ten as the Aussie slipped in a quick flyer just after the chequered flag.