Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes completed free practice in eighth place yesterday at Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent and he is looking to improve on his setup during today's final session so he can place his GSX-R1000 on the front row of the grid during qualifying for the final round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.
Dry weather and ideal conditions allowed both riders to fully utilise the 50-minute sessions steadily working through a number of changes to dial in their Rizla Suzuki's to the 1.1986-mile circuit. The short punchy Indy circuit can be difficult to pass on and Sykes was hindered during the sessions while trying to get a clear lap. He is determined to finish his season with Rizla Suzuki on a high and chipped away at his chassis settings which will leave him in a strong position ahead of tomorrow's qualifying.
His team-mate Atsushi Watanabe finished in 18th place and is also planning on further improvements tomorrow to guarantee a top-10 qualifying position. He concentrated on set-up taking a different direction as he reacquainted himself with the undulating Kent track. He slashed half a second off his lap time from the morning session and is hoping to do the same again if not better tomorrow.
Yamaha's Karl Harris was fastest today.
Qualifying takes place on Saturday at 1400. Racing commences at 1400 on Sunday with race two at 1645.
Jack Valentine - Rizla Suzuki Team Manager:
"It's been a very steady day on track for us but we are just laying the ground work. The riders need to find a comfortable set-up before they can really push it. Tom has been working on set-up based on the data gained during his Brands Hatch World Superbike outing. Once the team find the chassis balance he requires, he will have a very strong package. Traffic was also a problem as he struggled to get a clear lap in on this very short circuit.
"Atsu has also spent today progressing through a number of changes to his Rizla Suzuki. His technicians took a change in direction which saw a small improvement so further changes tomorrow will take us another step up the time sheets. I think both riders will pull it out of the bag for qualifying as they have put in a lot of hard work today."
Free practice results:
1: Karl Harris (Yamaha) 45.9932: Leon Haslam (Honda) +0.0953: Shane Byrne (Ducati) +0.3294: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) +0.5255: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +0.5996: Leon Camier (Ducati) +0.7317: James Ellison (Honda) +0.7688: Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) +0.7939: Michael Laverty (Suzuki) +0.88410: Billy McConnell (Kawasaki) +0.93518: Atsushi Watanabe (Rizla Suzuki) +1.444