The HM Plant Honda Team was in a positive mood after a strong first day of the 2011 British Superbike Championship.
After Saturday's two Free Practice sessions, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Shane 'Shakey' Byrne finished third and fourth, within a tenth of a second of the Swan Yamaha duo who led the way.
The team spent the opening day at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit experimenting with different tyre compounds, as they continued their preparations for the Easter Monday double header.
Kiyonari was the faster of the two riders, just 0.032s down on Tommy Hill, and a mere five thousandths ahead of his teammate. The reigning BSB Champion feels there is still some pace to find in the Honda Fireblade.
“We tried many different things today with the suspension and the engine because we always need to be pushing to go faster. Today I wasn't as fast as Shakey but I know that I can be, we just have a few things we need to try tomorrow before qualifying. I need to be consistent so tomorrow we need to push harder so we can try and get the pole position.”
After setting the pace in final testing yesterday, Byrne stuck with the set-up that served him so well, and the BSB returnee was encouraged by how well the tyres held up.
“It has been another productive day and we started how we finished – happy with how everything has been going. We used the same tyre this morning as we did yesterday and even after 45 laps we were still doing times that would have put us up the front so I am happy with the performance of the tyres and I was getting into a good rhythm.”
With just 0.037s covering the top four, qualifying promises to be closely fought, and 'Shakey' has stressed the need to extract every fraction of a second out of the HM Plant Honda package.
“The last part of the session was a bit frustrating, just because of a few minor things but I know we can still find a tenth of a second if we just keep chipping away tomorrow and that means a lot around here. The HM Plant Honda team has done a great job but we know there is still a bit more to come from us and the Fireblade.”
Team Manager Havier Beltran was also quietly confident ahead of tomorrow's qualifying session.
“It has been an interesting day for Kiyo and Shakey. Fair play to Kiyo; he showed today that he can be up the front when he needs to be and proved what he is capable of and Shakey likewise. Both riders worked on tyre choice today which will prove crucial on race day. It is of course early days still and both riders have more to come but we are happy.”