Alex Lowes is determined to take the fight for the two victories in the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park this Bank Holiday Monday to reigning champion Shane “Shakey” Byrne, kicking off the weekend by setting the pace in free practice for Samsung Honda.
Lowes put in a lap of 1m 36.547s in dry conditions to be just 0.053 seconds clear of his Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rival Byrne, who with three wins from four races currently heads the standings.
“I’m quite happy so far as we’ve done a lot in the one session after rain cost us track time earlier but the bike is feeling good,” said Lowes. “We’ve got a lot of work still to do; Shakey has tested here and this is the first time I’ve ridden Oulton Park since last year so I’m feeling good and looking forward to the races. I hope to give him something to think about on Monday in the races.”
Byrne had a confident performance in the afternoon session, putting in his fastest time on his final lap, and that was just enough to keep him ahead of Aussie Josh Brookes who had been the fastest in the wet morning session aboard his Tyco Suzuki.
James Ellison, who had won in the opening round at Brands Hatch for Milwaukee Yamaha, was fourth fastest, while Jon Kirkham continued his recent run of form aboard the Buildbase BMW to set the fifth best time. Bathams Honda rider Tommy Bridewell, Peter Hickman on the Lloyds British GBmoto Honda, Quattro Plant Kawasaki’s Chris Walker who took a victory in the corresponding round of last year, and MCE BSB rookie PJ Jacobsen completed the top ten.
Michael Rutter, who will start his 400th MCE BSB race here in the first of the two races, struggled for pace on his Bathams Honda, ending 17th on the leaderboard.
Free practice one:
1:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 1m:55.781s
2:Keith Farmer (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +3.277s
3:Tommy Bridewell (Bathams Honda) +3.404s
4:Robbin Harms (Doodson Motorsport Honda) +3.736s
5:Howie Mainwaring (MH Kawasaki) +4.418s
6:Ryuichi Kiyonari (Samsung Honda) +4.579s
Free practice two:
1:Alex Lowes (Samsung Honda) 1m:36.547s
2:Shane Byrne (Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki) +0.053s
3:Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.078s
4:James Ellison (Milwaukee Yamaha) +1.160s
5:Jon Kirkham (Buildbase BMW) +1.281s
6:Tommy Bridewell (Bathams Honda) +1.338s