Rizla Suzuki's Scott Smart will start from third on the front row while his injured team mate John Reynolds qualified in an amazing 12th place for tomorrow's opening round of the 2005 British Superbike Championship at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent.
Smart spent both of today's 50-minute long sessions testing race tyres before slotting in a Dunlop qualifier and leaping up to third on the front row of the grid in the dying minutes. He was one of only three riders to break the 46-seconds barrier - more than half a second faster than he has ever lapped at Brands Hatch before.
British Superbike Champion JR started qualifying in determined mood and slashed nearly 1.5-seconds from yesterday's best lap time to get within half a second of the front row - despite riding with an injured right leg that he broke in five places during testing just 38-days ago. He will start from 12th and the third row of the grid behind pole sitter Leon Haslam on a Ducati, with the top 17 on the grid separated by just one second.
Team SUZUKI MotoGP ace John Hopkins and Team Manager Paul Denning will be joining Rizla Suzuki to support the team as it begins the defence of its Superbike title tomorrow. Superbike racing starts at 13:45pm at Brands Hatch in Kent on Bank Holiday Monday, March 28th.
"We did nothing to my Rizla Suzuki race bike, but the big difference today was simple - I got my head into gear and I stopped trying so hard. Once I relaxed I was able to slash my lap times and lap consistently quickly.
"My qualifying lap was a revelation - I entered Clearways thinking I was going far too fast but turned in as normal and my GSX-R held the line perfectly. I am building trust in the Rizla Suzuki and starting to reveal its true potential. Third is a front row start and I'm happy with that, in fact I am more than happy, I am ecstatic!"
"My Rizla Suzuki is working beautifully and my injured right leg isn't bothering me when I'm riding. Last night I was disappointed but today we have got our act together and are within striking distance of pole position with a competitive race pace.
"We are going to move the gear lever down because I missed a couple of shifts during my qualifying lap. My only other concern is my right toe-slider, I am grinding it down pretty quick and the team is going to reinforce it this evening so it will last 30-laps."
Gary Keogh, Rizla UK Brand Manager:
"My first reaction is that there is nothing between first and 12th on the grid and both riders have excelled themselves on the all new Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000K5.
"JR has been simply inspiring and I cannot give him higher praise than that. Scott rode fantastically to get third on the grid and we all know he is a better racer than qualifier, so we are confident for the races. This Championship is a marathon and not a sprint and this is a great start for the team."
- 1: Leon Haslam (Ducati) 45.784
- 2: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.043
- 3: SCOTT SMART (Rizla Suzuki) +0.155
- 4: Sean Emmett (Yamaha) +0.226
- 5: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) +0.271
- 6: Michael Rutter (Honda) +0.277
- 7: Glen Richards (Kawasaki) +0.280
- 8: Karl Harris (Honda) +0.331
- 9: Jeremy McWilliams (Honda) +0.502
- 10: Gary Mason (Honda) +0.544
- 12: JOHN REYNOLDS (Rizla Suzuki) +0.614