Shane 'Shakey' Byrne was encouraged with the performance of the HM Plant Honda right from the start of free practice at Thruxton.

The current BSB championship leader, who has a three point lead over John Hopkins, was quickest in both of Saturday's sessions as the Fireblade showed good pace around the high-speed circuit.

But while Byrne was pleased with his day's work, he refused to make any bold predictions for the rest of the weekend.

“I think we are in a similar position to everyone else today. Straight out the box the HM Plant Honda Fireblade worked well and I am feeling pretty happy really. The bike is agile, in some places this morning a little too agile so we have calmed the girl down, changed the shock and the ride height and now we are just trying to get the most out of the Pirelli tyres. I really love this place and riding the HM Plant Honda Fireblade at real speed is great fun so I just want to have a good qualifying so we can be up there in the race on Monday.”

Teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari struggled through free practice at Croft and his performance on Saturday seemed to suggest he was having similar problems.

The Japanese rider was down in 14th but later revealed he was concentrating on long runs and was much happier with the performance of his bike.

“I am very happy with the feeling today of the HM Plant Honda Fireblade. We have worked hard as a team since Croft to improve and be happier with the bike. We did some long runs today and this morning we worked on engine set up and then this afternoon some chassis changes. There were a few changes that work, some that were not so good but we have direction for tomorrow.”

Team manager Havier Beltran was delighted with the progress made on Kiyonari's machine and expects both his riders to be in the race for pole position on Sunday.

“It has been a positive start to the Thruxton event for HM Plant Honda. Kiyo has been more comfortable today and as a team we have all worked hard since Croft so that would be the case. This track is fast and bumpy like Croft so we are pleased with today's progress. There is still a lot for both riders to test and Shakey has been working on the chassis setting and tyre longevity ahead of Monday's races and was able to still go fastest today.”