Bennetts Suzuki's Tommy Bridewell will start today's opening race at Thruxton from the front row of the grid, after qualifying second-fastest on his GSX-R1000 for round six of the MCE British Superbike Championship.
Bridewell, who was born close the Hampshire circuit, comfortably progressed from the opening qualifying session in ninth place, before going on to post the third-fastest time in Q2.
The new Superpole format - employed at Thruxton for only the second time this season - gave the top-eight riders from Q2 just one flying lap to compete for the front row of the grid: Bridewell set the fastest time of the session so far with his flying lap, but was unfortunately pipped to pole, meaning he will start the first race from second on the grid.
“The bike's working really well. We've tried a few things this weekend, including a new swingarm, which is working really well. It takes me a bit of time to get going around here. I like the circuit but it's bitten me a few times over the years. But I'm feeling comfortable. Qualifying was good. We made a change for Q2 and found another second right away, and it's good to be on the front row. We spent practice also working on our tyres. It's going to be interesting to see how they hold up around here. It's a long race, but we're feeling good.”
After a steady start to free practice, team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari enjoyed a stronger weekend, finding improvements with his Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000 that allowed him to post the sixth-fastest time in FP2.
In qualifying, the former champion was again sixth fastest in Q1, but struggled to put another good lap together in the second session, and will start race one from 16th on the grid. However, he remains optimistic with his race-pace and is looking to improve on that position when the lights go out and racing begins tomorrow.
“I'm feeling good this weekend. We've made some improvements with the bike and I'm feeling confident. My pace has been okay so far. I was fast in practice and also in Q1. Unfortunately, I struggled to put a fast enough time in, in Q2, so I'm not happy with 16th on the grid, but I think we can have two good races and get two strong results tomorrow.”
Martin Halsall - Team Owner:
“That's the sort of response we were looking for. Everyone in the Bennetts Suzuki team has been working hard in an effort to bounce back and both Tommy and Kiyo have put the effort in, put in the laps, tried different components and set-up options, and it's paying off. Tommy's feeling really comfortable and you can see that in his riding. He's found something with the new swingarm which has helped with his set-up. The speed is there, and a front-row start means he is in the best position to battle for the podium tomorrow.
"Kiyonari's grid-spot doesn't reflect the pace he has shown this weekend. He had a tough time at Snetterton, but he's put in some fast laps this weekend. He was sixth fastest in Q1, but it just didn't come together in Q2. Times are tight, and he didn't get the run he needed. But we know he can come through from 16th, and if he can put a fast lap-in, we can see him start further-up the grid for race two. Everyone in the team is now looking forward to getting the racing underway.”
Qualifying Result: 1. Shane Byrne, 2. Tommy Bridewell (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), 3. Dan Linfoot, 4. Luke Mossey, 5. Michael Laverty. 16. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000).