Karl Harris topped the free practice leaderboard ahead of the weekend’s triple race finale to the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli at Oulton Park.
Riding the Sorrymate.com SMT Honda the Yorkshireman was the dominant force, running fastest across both sessions, with a best lap in 1m 36.277secs, an average speed of 100.65mph.
“I just enjoy riding the circuit and always go well, but really I don’t why – it’s just one of those things, though fitting the engines that Leon Haslam uses in World Superbikes has made a big difference ” explained Harris with a smile.
He took a pair of seconds, to newly crowned champion Leon Camier in the early season round at the Cheshire circuit.
“A first win in Superbikes? That would be nice, but I don’t make predictions.”
His speed came in a session which saw Camier tip off at high-speed at the Brittens section of circuit, with his Airwaves Yamaha taking a battering as it bounced end over end.
“The bike stood up on me and there was nothing I could do about it,” he explained. “I’m a bit sore, the rear wheel caught me, but I’ll be OK to race,” said Camier who ended the day fifth fastest with a best lap on 1m 36.884secs.
“This has not helped, and I’ve given the team a lot of work with the bike, but my motivation to win is as strong as ever,” “added the rider who is chasing a second winning triple, having enjoyed a hat-trick at Brands Hatch, to take to 20 his record victory tally for the campaign.
In between Harris and Camier at the top of the leaderboard are the two Hydrex Honda riders, Tommy Hill and Stuart Easton, together with Ian Lowry aboard the Relentless Suzuki.
Easton needs strong results, ahead of James Ellison, on the second Airwaves bike, if he is snatch second place in the overall standings and the Flying Scot warmed up for the challenge by running a little over half a second faster.
Ellison, however has the edge in the standings, taking a 51 points lead into the action, and currently he is enjoying his best form of the campaign: “The past three race meetings have gone better and better for me. We’ve made small changes here and there, and now the bike is really working for me,” explained Ellison.
Alastair Seeley, the National Superstock champion, making his full Superbike debut with Relentless Suzuki, ran twelfth fastest, 1m 37.820secs, just ahead of Michael Rutter riding the Bathams Ducati and the newly crowned Mirror.co.uk Cup Champion Gary Mason aboard the Quay Garage Honda.
Tom Tunstall, riding the Hardinge Doodson Honda, ran within half a second of Mason with fellow Cup riders Peter Hickman, Martin Jessopp, Tommy Bridewell and James Buckingham, a former winner of the Privateers Cup, making a racing return after more than a year on the second Quay Garage bike.
Top ten free practice times
1 K Harris Sorrymate.com SMT Honda 1m 36.277s
2 T Hill Hydrex Honda 1m 36.384s
3 S Easton Hydrex Honda 1m 36.777
4 I Lowry Relentless Suzuki 1m 36.874s
5 L Camier Airwaves Yamaha 1m 36.884s
6 S Andrews MSS Colchester Kawasaki 1m 37.214s
7 C Walker Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha 1m 37.423s
8 J Ellison Airwaves Yamaha 1m 37.445s
9 G Richards HM Plant Honda 1m 37.650s
10 J Brookes HM Plant Honda 1m 37.703s