James Ellison promised the elite six Title Fighters going into the triple race Showdown for the MCE Insurance British Superbike crown that he intends to give them a tough time in the Oulton Park finale having set the pace in opening free practice at the Cheshire circuit.
The Swan Honda rider, fresh from his winning ride in the previous round at Silverstone, is in the mood for more of the same and he is keen to show what might have been but for the broken leg he sustained in a tumble during the second round back in April.
That wrecked his hopes of taking the crown but now he could have a big influence on the outcome of the title, given his pace and his pledge to go all out for victories.
“It has been a rollercoaster year for me and I want to end the season on a high,” he said. “There is no benefit for me to ride defensively as I have no title to lose.”
The pace of Ellison, lapping in 1:36.3256secs, could pose problems for the Title Fighters although, five of them ran in the top six on the leaderboard with little more than half a second between them.
Australia’s Josh Brookes, riding the HM Plant Honda, was the fastest of them. Brookes, who had topped the morning session, took four tenths of a second off that time as he put in a frantic late challenge to topple Ellison off the top next time out.
“The first session was quite easy, we put in a lot of laps and it was good,” said Brookes. “We made some changes between sessions, some worked, some did not, but, we reverted back to how we were, put the time in and also learned some things that should improve our lap times ahead of the first race.”
Brookes goes into the first of the races, on Saturday afternoon, aiming to peg back the 11 points by which he trails Tommy Hill, the Worx Crescent Suzuki rider, who ran fourth fastest, a split second down on Michael Rutter aboard the RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati.
Rutter, who took his second win of the season in the first race at Silverstone, but tumbled next time out, is playing catch-up on Hill, 43 points adrift, but with 75 points at stake here he is ready to fight all of the way. For Rutter, victories are all important, and that according to Hill is also the only way for him to focus on the races.
“I am not going into these races looking to defend my position. I’ve seen it in championships before, attack really is the best form of defence, so I am going out there to win all three races and get the job done,” said Hill who put in a best lap time of 1m 36.583secs. “We’re not a million miles away from where we want to be and will be making a few changes as I want to be on top of the time-sheets.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari, riding the second HM Plant Honda and bidding to take the British crown for a third time, ran fifth fastest, 1m 36.680secs, ahead of Michael Laverty who is feeling confident that his title challenge is well on track after a series of consistent laps aboard his Relentless Suzuki, although his team-mate, and the sixth of the Title Fighters Alastair Seeley needs to up his pace, having set tenth time, 1m 37.507secs on the leaderboard.
Steve Brogan, defending an eight points lead over Hudson Kennaugh in the chase for the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO crown, had the upperhand in practice, running his Jentin BMW fastest, 1m 38.998secs, a third of a second up on his Splitlath Aprilia rival.