Rizla Suzuki's Chris Walker was fifth and Cal Crutchlow eighth after the first two 50-minute long practice sessions at the opening round of the 2007 Bennetts British Superbike Championship at the Brands Hatch GP circuit in Kent.
Stalker was less than half a second behind Honda's Jonathan Rea, the fastest man on the day. Cal on his BSB debut was impressive and only half a second back from his team mate on the other end of the second row in eighth place.
There is one more practice session tomorrow morning before the 50-minute long Qualification in the afternoon when the riders are restricted to using a maximum of three rear tyres. Superbike racing starts at 1330 on Bank Holiday Monday, April 9th, at the 2.60-mile-long Brands Hatch GP circuit in Kent. It will be screened live on ITV4 starting at 1600.
"I am really happy with today and to be mixing it at the front of the pack. We tried a few different rear shocks and made a little progress in that area but to be honest, we haven't changed a great deal on my Rizla Suzuki.
"Credit must go to Lez Pearson, my Crew Chief. After the Snetterton test he spent a lot of time in the workshop fine tuning my GSX-R and straight away I felt at home on it here. We are in the ball park and now chipping away at our lap times, this is a good position to be in at the end of the first day."
"It's great to finally get on track and for the season to have started. It's been hard work though and while eighth on the time sheets is good; I know we still have a lot more to come.
"In the morning session I only used one rear tyre and this afternoon I struggled with braking. I need more stopping power on both my Rizla Suzukis and my crew are already working on delivering it to me. We have a bit of work to do to get it just right - but we will - and I can't wait to get back on track tomorrow."
Simon Buckmaster, Team Manager:
"The team is pretty happy really. We are getting there with a good setting for Chris and he is right on the front running pace. There are areas he can make progress and he is all set for improving his lap times from here.
"Cal suffered from a lack of braking power - but even then managed a quick lap time to be less than a second down. His crew will give him the braking power he wants and he will be in a strong position to attack his lap times tomorrow. Overall, it's been a positive day for both the riders and the team."
"I am a bit sore from my fall as it has been a long time since I last crashed. It was a shame that I crashed when I did as I had just completed my fastest lap and I was feeling good for another quick lap. I then switched to my spare bike but there was no chance for me repeating those times, as it did not feel quite the same. I am ok though and I am confident for qualifying tomorrow and the race on Monday."
"I am quite happy with today, I have used it to get back into the swing of things and adjust to the two 50 minute sessions. We?ve got one more session tomorrow to sort a few things out and complete some race runs which will be helpful. On the whole I am feeling confident and looking forward to getting back out there in the morning."
- 1: Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:26.336
- 2: Shane Byrne (Honda) +0.229
- 3: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) +0.269
- 4: Leon Camier (Honda) +0.313
- 5: Chris Walker (Rizla Suzuki) +0.442
- 6: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.511
- 7: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.943
- 8: Cal Crutchlow (Rizla Suzuki) +0.955
- 9: Tom Sykes (Honda) +1.283
- 10: Tommy Hill (Yamaha) +1.296