Tommy Hill drew first blood as the BSB Title Showdown began at Donington Park on Friday, dominating both free practice sessions. The Swan Yamaha rider leads by seven points over Shane Byrne ahead of the seven-race showdown which kicks off on Sunday and justified his status as the favourite on day one.

“It feels good to be in our strong position but now it is all about being consistent and staying ahead of the other Title Fighters”, he commented.

Hill was a full second ahead of the opposition in the morning session but John Hopkins was able to close the gap in the afternoon. The American is making his return to the series after a dislocated finger caused him to miss the Cadwell Park round.

Michael Laverty emphasised the potency of the Swan Yamaha package with the third fastest time and was the only other man within a second of the ultimate pace, with Shane Byrne 1.074s back in fourth ahead of Jon Kirkham.

The two other championship contenders had difficult days though with Josh Brookes crashing on his way to sixth while Ryuichi Kiyonari languished down in 20th.

Meanwhile, there was a piece of history at MSS Colchester Kawasaki as Gary Mason rode a machine developed to the upcoming 2012 regulations, including a standard-spec ECU, and was buoyant after going 12th fastest.

“It is nice to be the first rider to start the new era, it is a bit sad to say goodbye to the old girl but this newer model is much more aggressive; she is really feisty and doesn’t hold back – and I like that.”