The Milwaukee Yamaha duo of Josh Brookes and Broc Parkes have made a strong start at Snetterton as the MCE British Superbike Championship returns after the road racing break.
Both riders found themselves within the top five in both of Friday’s practice sessions at the Norfolk circuit, with Brookes once again lapping under his lap record at the track.
Brookes immediately found himself in a battle for the quickest lap with Shane Byrne in free practice one, with both riders swapping positions on a number of occasions.
It looked like Brookes was going to top the timing sheets in FP1 until, in the last couple of minutes, Byrne fought back to put in a 1:47.670 which was 0.187s quicker than the Yamaha rider.
The two BSB veterans fought it out once again in FP2, but it was Byrne who came out on top once again despite Brookes’ best efforts. Byrne’s lap of 1:47.664 was the quickest of the weekend and 0.134s quicker than the Australian.
Afterwards, Brookes said: “The tricky thing is that the grip level is down today compared to the test we had here so we have been riding around and trying to understand things. If we put the grip level back to where it was at the test, we would be able to replicate what we did then. When we had more grip it kind of disguised any set-up problems but they have been highlighted today with the lower grip. We have not made any changes, rather gathering information from me and from the data.
“We did a long run in the second session and the lap times were consistent, and the bike was fairly kind to the tyres. We have been kind of steady as the bike is in a good range so it is hard to move away from that. We have the idea to change the engine braking and to change the fork settings as the grip levels have uncovered some problems. The front wants to slide while basically the rear has more grip than the front. We need to work on that and hopefully we can get it equal – then the bike will be better.”
On the other side of the garage Parkes is arguably enjoying his best start to a BSB meeting of the year so far, finishing fifth overall and within 0.6s of the quickest rider.
The former MotoGP rider found some consistency during the official test held at the circuit back in May and seems to have found some confidence in his machine.
Looking back over the two practice sessions, Parkes said: “We have changed something a bit with the front fork that Josh tested that I didn’t get a chance to and basically went in a direction with the setting that we didn’t have time to at the test. That is something we had up our sleeve and fortunately it worked. I felt comfortable on the bike although it took me a bit of time to get back in the groove this morning after riding other bikes since the test, but I think in general that was good.
“I am feeling more comfortable with the laps we have don’t today and my pace is pretty good. To be six tenths from the top is close enough for now and I think on used tyres we have good pace and I could make passes. In the braking, where I have struggled a bit this year, I was confident and that is important and I feel much better.”
Both riders will be back out on track tomorrow morning for FP3 at 10:45, which will be their last chance to try and find the right set-up before the afternoon’s Datatag Extreme Qualifying session.