Rizla Suzuki's Shane 'Shakey' Byrne will start from eighth on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's opening two races of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent.
James Haydon will start from ninth and at the head of the third row after making changes to his bike during qualifying that have left him confident for the races.
Today was the first time the riders qualified under a new set of rules with a single afternoon qualifying session and only four rear tyres to be used during the session. With rain threatening throughout qualifying it tested the nerves of all the riders. Ducati's Gregorio Lavilla took pole position.
Superbike racing starts at 13:15hrs on Sunday, March 26th, at the 1.23-mile long Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent. It will be televised live on ITV1 from 15:00hrs.
"I said before qualifying if I could get on the second row I would be happy. By happy I mean as content as I can be without being on pole because that's really where I want to be. I think we have made some really good progress with the bike this weekend.
"It's been a while since I've ridden on qualifying tyres and the technicians told me to keep the throttle wound open coming out of Clearways. I tried that on my last lap but the bike came round on me and I had to roll off the throttle. I still crossed the line with my fastest lap and I know I could've dipped under 46 seconds if I'd held it together. That's encouraging"
"I am frustrated by just missing out on a second row start, especially as I am on a near identical lap time as Shakey and Kiyo just in front of me. That said, I will start from the outside of the track which is the best line for the first corner.
"I think I could've gone a bit faster on my last qualifier but there was fine drizzle on my visor and I decided I didn't want to risk a crash. We went in the wrong direction with our settings this morning but this afternoon the team has done a fantastic job - I now have good feeling from my Rizla Suzuki and am looking forward to the races."
Niall Mackenzie, Race Operations Manager:
"It is incredibly close on the time sheets with 14 riders within a second of pole position. Shane and James both worked extremely hard and have made strides forward with the set-ups on their Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000s.
"On race tyres both riders are in better shape than their qualifying positions suggest and are really positive. The forecast is for rain tomorrow, which would make the races very interesting. Either way come rain or shine we are good to go."
Gregorio Lavilla commented after qualifying, "Everything went well, I got a good run on my race tyres which felt good and I was running consistently fast laps. I feel race ready now but obviously we have the concern of rain tomorrow which maybe a problem as we have not completed any wet testing. But we did our job and it proves that as a team we have worked well over the winter to come out and get a one-two on the grid for the first race."
Leon Haslam said "I didn't get an ideal start to qualifying as there was a crash right in front of me early on but once we re-started I was feeling really good on the bike. I got some fast laps in and Greg and I were quickest for much of the session. I'm on the front row of the grid and I am happy with that."
- 1: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) 45.533
- 2: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.048
- 3: Karl Harris (Honda) +0.285
- 4: Dean Thomas (Kawasaki) +0.347
- 5: Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.425
- 6: Michael Rutter (Honda) +0.437
- 7: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.675
- 8: Shane Byrne (Suzuki) +0.716
- 9: James Hsydon (Suzuki) +0.755
- 10: Glen Richards (Honda) +0.849