Shane 'Shakey' Byrne dominated the opening day at Thruxton, setting the fastest time in both of Saturday's free practice sessions.
The current BSB points leader enters the weekend with a three point advantage, and the HM Plant Honda rider ended Saturday with a quarter of a second in hand over Tommy Hill.
Hill was the closest challenger to Byrne in both sessions but the 34-year-old produced a lap of 1:15.248 to edge out the Swan Yamaha team leader, and was delighted with the performance of the Fireblade straight from the off.
“The bike has worked well straight out of the box here so I am well happy. It is agile, in places too agile, around here! I love riding this circuit so I am looking for strong qualifying and then to win races.”
With Byrne leading the way, Michael Laverty followed up teammate Hill with the third quickest time, albeit 0.700s off the pace, while James Westmoreland provided further proof of the competitiveness of the Yamaha YZF-R1 by going fourth quickest for the Motorpoint squad.
Peter Hickman was fifth for Tyco Honda just ahead of John Hopkins. The American enters the weekend three points behind series leader Byrne and will be pleased with sixth on his first day's running at the high-speed track.
The Rapid Solicitors–Bathams Ducati pair were seventh and eighth as they looked to impress at the teams' home weekend. Interestingly, it was Martin Jessopp who had the upper hand on Saturday, lapping 0.092s quicker than teammate Michael Rutter.
Croft winner Jon Kirkham was ninth while Buildbase BMW's Ian Lowry completed the top ten, but you had to go all the way back to 14th to find Ryuichi Kiyonari. The Japanese rider has struggled during practice throughout the season and that proved the case again, as he was 1.459s away from his pace-setting teammate.
Alex Lowes spent the day adjusting to life on board the MSS Colchester Kawasaki and ended up in 13th, three places and four tenths in front of his teammate Gary Mason.
With Lowes out of the picture, the mirror.co.uk EVO class looks more open than ever, and his former WFR Honda teammate Graeme Gowland was quickest on Saturday ahead of Simon Andrews and Scott Smart. In Lowes' absence, Glen Richards effectively leads the championship and he was fourth in class, 23rd overall.