Shane 'Shakey' Byrne isn't worried by the gap between himself and his title rivals in Friday practice, despite finishing down in fifth place. The HM Plant Honda rider was 1.780s slower than points leader John Hopkins but with changes planned for qualifying, Byrne is confident that he can improve this afternoon.
“I love this track from when I have raced here before, but it was a shock riding the HM Plant Honda Fireblade for the first time this weekend as it felt like riding a steel bar initially! That said though, the team have worked hard to turn things around and had it not been for a technical issue at the end of the second session I think we could have been faster. I know that the changes we have lined up for the morning will enable us to go faster tomorrow in qualifying.”
Teammate Ryuichi Kiyonari was even further off the pace in 11th after a busy day making changes to the CBR1000RR Fireblade but is also optimistic of marking the weekend of his 29th birthday with a good grid position.
“Today we have completely changed the electronics system and I am already feeling more comfortable and I am feeling good about the changes we can make to go faster for qualifying tomorrow. It is harder though trying it during a race weekend than at a test because you have less time, but we have been able to improve. I am hoping for a good birthday present in terms of results this weekend; it won't be easy, but already I feel happier than before and want to fight again.”
Team Manager Havier Beltran knows that grid position is vital if the team are going to make use of their strong race pace.
“We need to have both Shakey and Kiyo on the first two rows for qualifying tomorrow so that they can fight for those important podiums on Sunday for HM Plant Honda. We have had a few issues today but we will put that behind us and look ahead to tomorrow. We know that the HM Plant Honda CBR1000 has strong potential for Sunday's races and we are looking to have a good qualifying session tomorrow.”