Samsung Honda's Michael Laverty has rocketed to the top of the second British Superbike free practice timesheets, heading this morning's fastest man Shane Byrne by less than three-tenths of a second in a session which saw the top 20 runners covered by only 1.2s.
Laverty lapped in 49.276 which was quicker than Byrne's earlier effort and the Kawasaki man was unable to go quicker than his free practice one time, psoting a 49.537 which was only a tenth faster than reigning champion Tommy Hill on the Swan Yamaha who, in turn was five one-hundreths ahead of Josh Brookes on the Tyco Suzuki.
Rain kept a majority of the riders in their garages for the first 20 minutes but then, as the track dried, James Westmoreland and Luke Quigley came out to test the tarmac which prompted the big hitters to follow suit.
Hill was the first to set a meaningful lap with a 49.767 with Ian Lowry and Brookes close behind. Hill then upped his pace to a 49.738 as Brookes posted a 49.984 to take second place and Laverty slid into third on 50.060. The Australian went faster again a couple of laps later but Hill held firm at the top.
Noriyuki Haga made a brief appearance in third place with a 49.932, his fastest lap of the day, but Byrne was now on track and slowly climbing the order. He went fourth with a 49.875, then deposed the Samurai of Slide a lap later as Lowry, on the Padgett's Honda, also started a quick run.
Just after Hill posted his best time, Laverty went into second with eight minutes to go, lapping in 49.670 before the red flags came out after Dan Linfoot crashed. The Irishman was fast out of the blocks at the re-tart, posting the fastest time of the session with Byrne in close attendance.
Alex Lowes crept into fifth spot behind Brookes with his last lap of the period. Lowry ended behind Irish compariot Alastair Seeley, who also stuck in a late charge, with Haga, Michael Rutter and Tristan Palmer, on the GBmoto Honda, completing the top ten but only eight-tenths off the pace.
Graeme Gowland put his WFR Honda in 11th, with Barry Burrell, Tommy Bridewell, Linfoot and Luke Quigley rounding out the top ten. Improvements to the Moto Rapido Ducati saw Scott Smart inside the top 15 early on but even down in 20th, he is still only 1.2s slower than Laverty.
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