Rizla Suzuki's James Buckingham will start from fifth and James Haydon from seventh in tomorrow's double-header Grand National at the Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire.
Qualifying took place in dramatic conditions, with the circuit soaking wet at the start of the final session but drying rapidly in the last two minutes. Both Rizla Suzuki riders spent most of qualifying fighting for pole position but were pushed back to the second row by riders taking advantage of the fast drying conditions in the dying seconds. Honda's Jonathan Rea is on pole position.
Leader of the British Superbike Privateer Cup, Buckingham is substituting for Rizla Suzuki's John Reynolds on the GSX-R1000 this weekend while the Champion continues to focus on the latter stages of the British Superbike Championship. Buckingham said: "I was badly held up at the end of the session just as it was drying out on track. I didn't get an opportunity to really go for a fast lap time because of the traffic and I'm disappointed to have been relegated to the second row.
"It's a fantastic experience riding for Rizla Suzuki this weekend. My GSX-R1000 is dialed in for the wet or the dry and I'm really enjoying myself. I was nervous before the wet session but I went out and was in the top three without really pushing - the bike is just so good! A second row start is good for tomorrow and no matter what the conditions, we have a good set up and I'll be going for it."
Rizla Suzuki regular racer James Haydon started with the same chassis and suspension settings he used at the recent Cadwell Park test but the bumpy nature of the 1.85-mile long track meant he spent most of the day revising them to cope with the tricky circuit. He said: "The track is mega bumpy and our previous settings just didn't work at all. We raised the back end of the bike and I was immediately more comfortable and we will soften the suspension a little further for tomorrow.
"I was on the front row for most of the session and like James (Buckingham) I never managed to get a clear lap and ended up on the second row. That's okay, I think we can run with the leaders tomorrow no matter what the weather."
Simon Green, Rizla Suzuki Team Co-ordinator, said: "That was a very challenging qualifying session with the track drying very swiftly towards the end. Both Rizla Suzukis were vying for pole position until the last minute and in fairness that represents the pace they can run come rain or shine tomorrow.
"James Buckingham has done a very impressive job for his first time on the Rizla Suzuki and at Castle Combe - he has been safe and fast and at the front in every session. James Haydon spent today adapting his bike to the track and is in good shape for the races tomorrow."
JR will be trackside for the racing tomorrow, lending his support to the Rizla Suzuki racers and meeting the fans. Superbike racing starts at 13:15hrs tomorrow, Sunday, July 31st.
- 1: Jonathan Rea (Honda), 1:17,92
- 2: Karl Harris (Honda), +0.02
- 3: Tommy Hill (Yamaha), +0.86
- 4: Richard Wren (Yamaha), +1.06
- 5: James Buckingham (Suzuki), +1.19
- 6: Steve Plater (Honda), +1.28
- 7: James Haydon (Suzuki), +1.78
- 8: Ollie Bridewell (Kawasaki), +2.38
- 9: Les Shand (Yamaha), +2.54
- 10: Nick Pusey (Yamaha), +2.73