Swan Yamaha signalled their intentions for the new season by setting the pace in both of Saturday's practice sessions. Tommy Hill led the way at the circuit he clinched the title back in October although conditions were challenging because of overnight rain.
“So far, so good for the Swan Yamaha team here at Brands Hatch”, said the defending champion. “It is still early days as it is only practice, but it is obviously good to top both of the sessions. In the afternoon stint I did my fastest lap as it began to drizzle a little and the team called me back into the garage, but to do that in those changing conditions is definitely encouraging. Tomorrow for qualifying and the races on Monday could be a different story if the weather changes but we are happy and feeling ready for it.”
Teammate Noriyuki Haga also made a bright start on his debut weekend in British Superbikes, going third fastest in the morning. The Japanese star dropped to 17th in the afternoon but wasn't concerned with that drop-off.
“Today we decided on the engine to use after testing them yesterday and I was feeling comfortable and now we just need to make a few more changes to help with the balance before qualifying. The lap times are so close between everybody that just to push a little bit more will move me up the order so I am not worried. It is important to get a good feeling with the Swan Yamaha which we have been doing today and we have some more ideas for tomorrow ready for qualifying.”
Team Manager Gary Ekerold also expects Haga to make progress as the weekend moves on and thinks the team are well set ahead of Sunday's qualifying session.
“After a slightly tricky day yesterday with the fuelling issues the Swan Yamaha team have made good progress today. Tommy topped both sessions and has shown that he comes back here ready to battle. Noriyuki has been making good progress but still needs a little more time, but with the times so close it won't be long before we see what he is capable of here.”