RIZLA SUZUKI racer Scott Smart finished eighth and less than two-tenths of a second off a front row lap-time in today's practice sessions for the second round of the British Superbike Championship at Thruxton in Hampshire.
<>A bitterly cold wind gusting through the airfield-based circuit made practice difficult for everyone and Smart deliberately took his time building up his speed as the day progressed. He completed his fastest laps right at the end of the practice sessions on a race compound tyre.
British Superbike Champion John Reynolds was 15th on the timesheets as he tested gearing on his Rizla Suzuki race bike. He found the cold conditions uncomfortable on his broken right leg and completed only a handful of laps, determined to rest as much as possible before Sunday's races.
Thruxton is Rizla Suzuki's home round of the Championship as the circuit is based just 40-minutes drive from the team's headquarters at the Crescent Performance Centre in Verwood, Dorset. It boasts the fastest average lap speed of any circuit the BSB series visits at nearly 112mph. Honda's Michael Rutter was quickest today.
Former Formula One commentator and friend to Rizla Suzuki, Murray Walker, will be joining the team on Sunday to catch all the race action. Superbike racing at Thruxton starts at 13:15 on Sunday, April 10th. It will be televised live on Sky Sports with a highlights programme on Channel 4 the following Sunday morning.
"Thruxton is a circuit I build up to over the course of a weekend. It is extremely bumpy and today the cold driving wind conditions made it even more treacherous than normal, so I was playing it safe.
"I saved my best lap times until the end of the day on a race tyre and we have a strong direction to follow for developing the bike during tomorrow's qualifying sessions. The Rizla Suzuki is fast and I am gaining in confidence with every lap."
"Track conditions were difficult for me today and the gusting wind and cold didn't help my broken right leg.
"I worked on gearing and finding a comfortable setting on my GSX-R1000 so I can change direction quickly. There are no issues with the Rizla Suzuki - it is a fantastic motorcycle and I aim to improve my position dramatically in qualifying."
Robert Wicks, Team Manager:
"It has been cold and windy at Thruxton and both the Rizla Suzuki riders have had a productive day. Neither rider went out on a qualifying tyre and instead they concentrated on testing various suspension and gearing settings and have finished with a lot of useful data for the technicians to work with.
"Scott has again proved he can run with the fastest riders and JR continues to impress just by racing against the odds with his injured leg. We will be making changes to both our riders' bikes this evening and will come out all guns firing in qualification tomorrow."
Friday Practice Times:
- 1: Michael Rutter (Honda) 1:16.492
- 2: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.133
- 3: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) +0.712
- 4: Karl Harris (Honda) +0.716
- 5: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.775
- 6: Dean Thomas (Kawasaki) +0.795
- 7: Sean Emmett (Yamaha) +0.952
- 8: SCOTT SMART (RIZLA SUZUKI) +0.969
- 9: Glen Richards (Kawasaki) +1.057
- 10: Tommy Hill (Yamaha) +1.085
- 15: JOHN REYNOLDS (RIZLA SUZUKI) +1.728