MotorSport Vision press release:
Karl Harris was the dominant force of free practice ahead of the Holiday Monday second round of the ViSK British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park.
The Hydrex Honda rider led both sessions at the Cheshire circuit, lapping consistently quickly, with a best time of 1m 36.794secs as he worked to refine his bike ahead of the races at a circuit on which he has a strong pedigree.
Harris, a former British Supersport champion, has still to taste the winner’s champagne in the top flight, but that could change after a winter of hard work on fitness. “I’m ready for anything, but I’m not going to start talking about wins, rather keeping focussed on the job and doing it well.
“I love it here, really enjoy the circuit and though we’ve concentrated on working on our race settings, I’ve kept the pace up,” said Harris, adding, “I was up the top through practice for the opening round at Brands Hatch, but then it went wrong on raceday, but that is not going to happen here – I am going to do the job.”
Harris is riding at his best, and he needs to be as the opposition is strong, with his team-mate Stuart Easton closing in with a lap in 1m 37.070secs while James Ellison who has happy memories of racing this circuit underlined that he is getting to grips with the all-new Airwaves Yamaha, as he ran third fastest, 1m 37.314secs.
Ellison was twice second, riding then for Hydrex Honda, at Oulton Park last season, and also clinched his Privateers Cup there five years earlier. His team-mate Leon Camier completed the top four, running with a time of 1m 37.757secs.
Camier goes into these races determined to peg-back the seven points deficit in the early season title stakes that he has on Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli who took time to learn the demands of the circuit, running in mid-pack, sixteenth best with a lap of 1m 38.718secs on his Worx Suzuki.
MotoGP exile Guintoli is confident that he can bite back when it matters most, in Sunday’s Swan Combi 50 Roll for Pole, and that could spell problems for riders including Ian Lowry who ended the Saturday sessions fifth best with a lap of 1m 37.855secs on his Relentless Suzuki, to be ahead of HM Plant Honda’s Glen Richards and top Mirror.co.uk Cup competitor Gary Mason aboard the Quay Garage Honda.
Graeme Gowland was the top Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha rider, just ahead of Chris Walker, while Tristan Palmer completed the top ten.
Mason, who had lapped in 1m 38.024secs, was over a second faster than his nearest rival in the Cup stakes, Martin Jessopp on the Riders Racing Honda. Kenny Gilbertson, Jx Fuelcards Kawasaki, and Peter Hickman, on the Ultimate Racing Yamaha, were in close contention.
ViSK British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli
Combined free practice – top ten positions
1 K Harris Hydrex Honda 1m 36.794secs, av sp 100.12mph
2 S Easton Hydrex Honda 1m 37.070s
3 J Ellison Airwaves Yamaha 1m 37.314s
4 L Camier Airwaves Yamaha 1m 37.757s
5 I Lowry Relentless Suzuki 1m 37.855s
6 G Richards (AUS) HM Plant Honda 1m 37.822s
7 G Mason Quay Garage Honda 1m 38.024s
8 G Gowland Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha 1m 38.273s
9 C Walker Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha 1m 38.308s
10 T Palmer Buildbase Kawasaki 1m 38.429s
13 J O’Halloran SMT Honda 1m 38.611s
17 D Johnson Maxxis Yamaha 1m 38.847s
19 J Brookes HM Plant Honda 1m 39.062s