Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes set the pace yesterdayday at the arduous Cadwell Park circuit in Lincolnshire ahead of round nine of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, dominating both free practice sessions.
The Huddersfield ace has been on top form since taking his debut win at Oulton Park and adding two more to his tally. He looked comfortable aboard his Rizla Suzuki which has been working well and is determined to keep his successful momentum going. Dry weather allowed Sykes to work through settings on both his machines during free practice and perfect his set-up ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
Double Japanese Superbike Champion Atsushi Watanabe put in an impressive performance at the difficult 2.18-mile track. He was running in the top 10 for the bulk of the session and finished in a healthy 12th place. The Suzuka Eight Hour podium finisher has been getting to grips with his braking points and has more to come going into qualifying.
The new Formula One-style qualifying session will take place on Sunday at 1400. Race one is on Bank Holiday Monday at 1345 and race two at 1630.
"I'm really pleased with how today went. My team has been working hard and my Rizla Suzuki is performing well. We have just been making small changes, fine-tuning really, and it is all going in the right direction. I like Cadwell Park. It is a real rider's circuit and I think the new qualifying will keep things interesting for the fans and give us riders a bit more space on track. Bring it on."
"When I first came to Cadwell I thought it was a 'scary circuit' but now I am learning and it isn't so bad. I need to work on my braking points and then I can go faster. I want to stay inside the top 10 and I was there during both sessions today. My aim for tomorrow is to go forward to the final qualifying session with a clear track. British fans will see what Watanabe can do."
Jack Valentine - Rizla Suzuki Team Manager:
"Today has gone well for us and I'm very happy with how everyone has performed. Our Rizla Suzukis are on top form and haven't missed a beat, Tom is on fire and Atsu is really starting to show what he is capable of.
"Tom has been working on some geometry changes to get his Rizla Suzuki turning even better. He has covered race distance on a set of tyres and is still producing fast, consistent lap times showing he has good race pace so it has been a very productive day on track for him.
"Cadwell is about the toughest circuit that we will visit this year and Atsu is rising to the challenge. He has been running consistently in the top 10 and that is his aim for this weekend. He just needs to get as many laps under his belt as he can and I think he will do us proud. I feel there is more to come from everyone and we just need to keep that going into tomorrow."
Free practice results:
1: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) 1:27.9452: Leon Haslam (Honda) +0.1113: Shane Byrne (Ducati) +0.5114: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) +0.6005: Karl Harris (Yamaha) +0.9016: Leon Camier (Ducati) +0.9717: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +1.0758: Michael Laverty (Suzuki) +1.6529: Simon Andrews (Yamaha) +1.78910: Scott Smart (Kawasaki) +1.90312: Atsushi Watanabe (RizlaSuzuki) +2.057