Tommy Hill fired a warning shot to rivals as he finished top of the timesheets at the end of the first day of practice for the opening round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.
Reigning champion Ryuichi Kiyonari led the way in the opening session setting a best lap of 45.687s around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit on his HM Plant Honda. The Swan Yamaha of Michael Laverty finished just 0.081s behind with team mate Tommy Hill just 0.004s behind.
The closing stages of the afternoon session would bring the perfect opportunity for Hill to fire himself up to match the pace of the four year old lap record with a lap of 45.499 seconds with an average speed of 95.57mph. The pace of the Englishman even more impressive with the news he was still suffering some discomfort in his arm for an injury sustained during pre-season testing at Snetterton.
“That was hard, hot work but I needed to put in as many laps as I could both in Friday's test and then these sessions as before that I had only done a dozen laps on the bike in the previous eight weeks,” explained Hill.
“The bike feels good, the race settings are good although I think we can still do a bit to the electronics to improve. I've worked on a race distances and this circuit is very physical to ride and my arm is a bit sore, but I will get some ice on it and it will be fine,” he added.
Laverty was once again on pace, finishing the session just 0.008s behind Hill and 0.024s ahead of Kiyonari, while Shane 'Shakey' Byrne almost matched the pace of this HM Plant team-mate just 0.005s behind.
Series debutant John Hopkins finished fifth on his Samsung Crescent Suzuki with a best lap of 45.728s while Dan Linfoot improved his pace over the afternoon to slot in to sixth place. Stuart Easton finished seventh while Frenchman Loris Baz ended the session just behind. Rounding out the top ten were Gary Mason and Josh Brookes.
Alex Lowes was the fastest of the Mirror.co.uk BSB-EVO runners with a time of 46.352 ahead of Simon Andrews, Glen Richards and Graeme Gowland.