Jason O’Halloran set the pace in the second Bennetts British Superbike Championship free practice session at Knockhill on Friday afternoon, the McAMS Yamaha rider lapping 0.112s quicker than Glenn Irwin (Honda) with Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Ducati) in third.
With better and drier conditions than the opening session earlier in the day, lap times fell considerably and Rory Skinner (Cheshire Mouldings FS-3 Kawasaki) was immediately on the pace with a lap of 48.378s which was almost four seconds quicker than the quickest time in FP1.
That put him almost two tenths of a second clear of Bradley Ray (RICH Energy OMG Yamaha) but both were soon pushed down the order with Christian Iddon (Buildbase Suzuki) going quickest before Danny Buchan (Synetiq BMW) claimed the top spot. However, Skinner quickly responded with the first sub-48s lap of the weekend, 47.990s, to reclaim the top spot.
With just seven minutes of the session gone, Ray slipped off at the hairpin but managed to get back to the pits whilst O’Halloran joined Skinner in the 47’s, Buchan, Iddon and Peter Hickman (FHO BMW) the running order behind.
After ten minutes, Josh Brookes (MCE Ducati) moved up to third only for Lee Jackson to push him down a spot shortly afterwards and it was then a Kawasaki 1-2 as the Lincolnshire man closed to within 0.003s of team-mate Skinner. It was close in general at the top with just 0.079s covering the top five riders.
At the halfway point of the 40-minute session, the top five remained the same – Skinner, Jackson, O’Halloran, Brookes and Buchan – with Iddon leading the chasing pack but two riders struggling to replicate their form from FP1 were Tom Sykes (MCE Ducati) and Leon Haslam (VisionTrack Kawasaki) who were back in 16th and 20th respectively.
Hickman then fell coming out of the hairpin but was able to get back to his garage whilst another one to take a trip into the gravel was Honda’s Tom Neave who went down at turn one. He was uninjured but his session came to an early end and a change to the top five came with 15 minutes to go when Storm Stacey leapt up the timesheets to an excellent fourth, which pushed Brookes back a spot to fifth.
O’Halloran then took over in the number one position with a lap of 47.858s with Kyle Ryde also making moves, the Yamaha rider slotting into seventh place and the next man to make his mark was Brookes with a lap of 47.955s helping him go second.
The former champion didn’t stop there either as he went to the top of the timesheets with a lap of 47.784s. That gave him a slender 0.074s advantage over fellow countryman O’Halloran with local hero Skinner slipping back to third.
With five minutes to go, O’Halloran returned to the top with a lap of 47.648s sending him 0.136s clear and Irwin made his first major impression to go third. Iddon’s session ended though with a spill at Leslie’s.
As expected, the closing stages saw a flurry of activity and a flurry of positional changes and whilst O’Halloran held onto first place, it was Irwin and Bridewell who came through for second and third ahead of Ryde, Brookes and Jackson.
Stacey, Skinner, Buchan, Sykes, Iddon and Hickman completed the top 12 but Tarran Mackenzie, Andrew Irwin, Ray and Haslam are just some of the riders who’ll have to start from Q1 tomorrow.
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