Christian Iddon led the way in the opening Bennett’s British Superbike Championship free practice session at Knockhill on Friday, the Buildbase Suzuki rider coming out on top in the wet conditions by 0.149s.
With most of the UK enjoying temperatures close to 30 degrees Celsius, it was just 13.5 degrees at the Fife venue with Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati) leading the way in the early stages of the 40-minute session.
Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) and Ryan Vickers (FHO BMW) slotted into second and third as just half the field took to the track in the opening moments and after ten minutes, Haslam moved to the top of the leaderboard with a lap of 53.580s. Bridewell quickly pushed him back to second though as he lapped 0.075s quicker with Tom Sykes (MCE Ducati) moving up to fourth shortly afterwards.
With 15 minutes gone, Andrew Irwin slipped off the Synetiq BMW, fortunately without injury, and Vickers then went quickest albeit by just 0.011s, the running order behind him now Bridewell, Sykes, Josh Brookes and Haslam.
At the mid-way point, the two Ducati’s of Brookes and Sykes took turns at the top of the timesheets with the majority of the field now out on track as a drier line began to appear. Notable absentees though were Bradley Ray, Rory Skinner and Tarran Mackenzie.
Sykes reign at the top didn’t last long as Jason O’Halloran went half a second quicker on the McAMS Yamaha but with conditions improving, positions were regularly changing; indeed, one time pace setter Vickers was back in seventh with 15 minutes to go.
A lap of 52.663s put Sykes back on top before of the majority of the field pitted but in the final ten minutes, most returned to the action and Iddon was the first rider to relegate Sykes a spot, the Suzuki rider lapping almost half a second quicker.
O’Halloran cut the gap to 0.149s and slotted into second with Haslam taking third to push Sykes back to an eventual fourth. Fellow Ducati rider Bridewell ended up fifth ahead of Brookes, Vickers, Danny Buchan, TT hero Peter Hickman and Ray, the latter putting in just nine laps.