It was a positive start to the final round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship for the Airwaves Ducati team today at Brands Hatch. Leon Haslam recorded the fastest time of the day with current championship leader and birthday boy Gregorio Lavilla in fifth.
In a wet first practice both Ducati 999F06's had difficulty finding their optimum settings, finishing the session 11th and 12th. With rain continuing to fall sporadically throughout the day afternoon practice was also declared wet. However, having established a good set up this morning, both riders improved their times dramatically early on. Leon recorded the quickest time of the day, 1:33.963, mid way through the session to take the lead. He was the only rider to break the 1:34 barrier but team mate Gregorio Lavilla was only 0.54 seconds behind with a fastest time of 1:34.506 when the second 50 minute session came to an end.
Both Airwaves Ducati riders were conscious of how the weather is likely to play a key part in the results this weekend, and after a quick chorus of Happy Birthday from his mechanics, defending champion Gregorio Lavilla commented,
"This morning we tried a number of different tyres and we had chosen the best one for this afternoon which worked really well and felt very good. We had a different set up this afternoon which I felt more comfortable with than I had felt this morning but the conditions were changing every lap which made it very difficult. Today the rain was stopping and starting and if conditions are like this the race will be a gamble for everyone. We will work to get the best set up we can and hopefully that will mean a good performance in qualifying tomorrow and especially the races on Sunday."
Currently in third position in the championship Leon Haslam was delighted that he recorded today's quickest time saying, "This morning we struggled with the set up but we knew what we had to do to improve for this afternoon which we did. Obviously getting the fastest time of the day is great and I am now confident with the rain set up on my bike. I have checked out the weather and it looks as though we are due for rain on Sunday but I am now confident for those conditions but I think it will be the weather that will play the biggest part in the results this weekend. Brands Hatch is my favourite track so I am looking forward to getting on with qualifying tomorrow and hopefully winning the Audi, then I will focus on Sunday's races."
Shakey Byrne: "I am happy with my Rizla Suzuki's handling in wet conditions. I tried a couple of different wet-weather tyres and have an idea which one I would like to use if it rains on Sunday.
"It's great to be back at Brands Hatch racing at the GP circuit, it is one of my favourites and closest to my home in England. For the fans and for me, I hope the sun comes out for the rest of the weekend, it's always more fun racing in the dry."
"We changed the rear shock on my Rizla Suzuki towards the end of the second session and it was a big improvement. I am relaxed and happy with riding and there is a lot more to come from me in either the wet or the dry."
Qualifying for the final round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship starts tomorrow, Saturday September 30th, at 1.50pm