Rich OMG Yamaha’s Kyle Ryde set the pace in free practice one as the Bennetts British Superbike Championship arrived at Donington Park.
Teammate Bradley Ray and FS-3's Lee Jackson concluding a session-long battle for honours with the newly titled Cheshire Mouldings Kawasaki claiming second from the YZF-R1 in the closing stages.
The National circuit action began with Jackson in charge of the early times with a 1’06.816 lap on his fourth attempt. Tommy Bridewell and FHO’s Peter Hickman securing the top three as spots of rain began to register around the track.
Championship leader Ray was the next to better, by half a second, on the OMG Yamaha with Bridewell improving to maintain his runners-up position on the Oxford Products Ducati. With the pack heading for pitlane as the rain was felt in all sectors.
Ryde joined his Rich Energy teammate in the top three ahead of Jackson, Synetiq BMW’s Andrew Irwin and Hickman with Jason O’Halloran kicking off round three from seventh on the McAMS Yamaha. Suzuki’s Danny Kent, Kawasaki’s Rory Skinner and BMW’s Chrissy Rouse completed the initial top ten as they waited for conditions to improve once again.
Tarran Mackenzie returned to action from outside the top 20 before quickly advancing up the order as his confidence built in the opening stages. The defending champion running 13th after nine laps of the short circuit on the McAMS R1. Honda’s Glenn Irwin suffering with early issues having dispatched just one lap with 20 minutes done.
Jackson hit the top as the second half began, with a 1’06.260. Josh Brookes promoting the MCE Ducati into tenth as Irwin arrived to 13th ahead of Danny Buchan and Mackenzie. Ray striking back just 0.58s away from breaking into the 1’05 pace on his tenth effort with O’Halloran up to third next time around.
Irwin’s issues resolved, the Northern Irishman hit the top five on his fifth lap of the morning as Ryde slotted into third. Christian Iddon circulating in 11th on the Buildbase Suzuki ahead of former teammate Brookes with Rouse, Ryo Mizuno and Buchan just adrift of the top 12.
VisionTrack Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam found his way into ninth, eight-tenths adrift of the Yamaha out front with 15 minutes to go, as Irwin continued to fine-tune his pace from fourth. Skinner demoting the local rider for position next time around.
The final ten minutes saw Tom Sykes advance the second Ducati into 13th, a second down on the current target. Mackenzie running just 0.018s behind with Brookes demoted to 15th and a further tenth back.
Iddon’s 1’06.379 gave the Suzuki third as the session counted down. Ray and Jackson continuing to bicker out front as the Kawasaki struck with the first 1’05 of the weekend. Bridewell then Hickman staking their claim on third with three minutes to go.
OMG Yamaha returned to the lead, this time with Ryde in charge as the penultimate minute began. 1’05.820 the time to beat in the closing stages as O’Halloran improved to sixth ahead of Bridewell, Iddon and the Irwin brothers with Glenn heading his younger sibling on the edge of the top ten.
Kent lost the Suzuki at Redgate as the chequered flag came out but was up on his feet and walking away. Ryde completing the session with the fastest time from the session-long duel of Jackson and Ray and Skinner in fourth.