Glenn Irwin topped the timesheets in the final Bennetts British Superbike Championship practice session at Donington Park on Saturday.
The Honda Racing rider setting the fastest lap of the weekend so far as he got the better of the McAMS Yamaha pairing of current series leader Jason O’Halloran and Tarran Mackenzie.
Dan Linfoot (TAG Racing Honda) set the early pace with a 1’06.883 followed by FS-3 Racing Kawasaki team-mates Lee Jackson and Rory Skinner but they were soon bumped down the order by Irwin and Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati), the Honda man putting in a 1’06.414 to go two tenths of a second clear.
Irwin’s tenure at the top of the leaderboard only lasted temporarily though as Mackenzie, 13th overall on Friday, went quickest with a lap of 1’06.254 being four tenths quicker than what he’d managed the day before.
Irwin immediately responded though with a 1’06.069, the lap being quicker than Peter Hickman’s pace-setting lap of 1’06.156 from Friday, with the Yamahas of Mackenzie and O’Halloran continuing to breathe down his neck.
Bridewell was still in fourth from Hickman and Linfoot but half way through the session it wasn’t going well for VisionTrack Ducati with Josh Brookes down in 16th and team-mate Christian Iddon faring worse as he failed to leave the garage.
Irwin went quicker again on his seventh lap and almost broke the 1’06 barrier with a lap of 1’06.015 but it was getting close as O’Halloran moved up to second just 0.042s adrift.
With five minutes to go, Ryan Vickers jumped up to fourth, the RAF Regular & Reserve Kawasaki rider continuing to impress and there was further change directly behind him too as Brookes upped his pace to leap up to fifth.
They were both relegated a spot soon after by Danny Buchan but his stay in fourth was brief too as Synetiq BMW team-mate Andrew Irwin, a double race winner on the National Circuit twelve months ago took over the position.
The top six remained the same – Glenn Irwin, O’Halloran, Mackenzie, Andrew Irwin, Buchan and Vickers – but a late lap by Hickman enabled him to slot into seventh with Brookes ending up eighth ahead of Bridewell and the second FHO Racing BMW of Xavi Fores.
Skinner dropped back to 14th having stopped at McLeans with nine minutes of the session remaining whilst Honda Racing’s Takumi Takahashi stopped on his out lap.