Reigning Bennetts British Superbike champion Shane Byrne has powered his way to the top of the Friday practice times with a blistering 45.384s equipped with a new swingarm on his Be Wiser Ducati.
The six-time BSB champion was one of a host of riders tussling for the fastest lap time as the pace sharpened at the end of FP2 which was held in dry conditions after damp patches plagued the opening session.
Byrne’s late flyer, using a new swingarm on the Ducati Panigale, saw off Anvil Hire Yamaha’s James Ellison – with both riders opting not to complete a lap in mixed conditions in the morning session – while Tyco BMW’s Christian Iddon kept them in close company along with double Brands Hatch Indy race winner from 12 months ago Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) with the top four split by less than one quarter of a second.
FP1 fastest rider Jason O’Halloran kept his charge inside the top five for Honda and ahead of Be Wiser Ducati’s Glenn Irwin with Leon Haslam shuffled down to seventh late on for JG Speedfit Kawasaki.
Peter Hickman made strong gains in eighth for Smiths Racing BMW as Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki) and Jake Dixon (RAF Regular & Reserves Kawasaki) rounded out the top ten.
The FP2 session was briefly red flagged after Dan Linfoot suffered a nasty off at Graham Hill Bend on the Honda and was taken to the medical centre for an assessment. Linfoot still ended the session 12th fastest and just behind Suzuki rider Tommy Bridewell.
Double race winner Bradley Ray at the Donington Park 2018 BSB opener could only manage 17th on the FP2 times on his Buildbase Suzuki while less than one second covered the top 18 riders.