Peter Hickman claimed the upper hand in the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Snetterton this afternoon. The FHO Racing BMW rider saved his best until last to maintain his position as the leader of the pack after the second SUPERPICKS Free Practice session in Norfolk.
The session began with Glenn Irwin becoming the first rider to improve on his time from the opening practice, but Hickman was soon gaining ground and he moved to within 0.202s after the first ten minutes.
Meanwhile reigning champion Josh Brookes was having a resurgence as he fired in a string of flying laps on the VisionTrack Ducati to move to the top, and then continued to improve to increase his margin over his rivals.
The Australian had the edge with five minutes remaining on the clock, just ahead of championship leader Jason O'Halloran who had jumped up the order into second place on the McAMS Yamaha.
Lee Jackson was on a sequence of flying laps though and in the final minute he had fired the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki into second place and just an incredible 0.003s adrift of Brookes at the top.
However, a final lap dash from Hickman put him back at the top of the times as the FHO Racing BMW rider, and the returning Danny Buchan, pulled out a lap time inside the existing lap record to claim the top two positions ahead of tomorrow’s SUPERPICKS Qualifying and BikeSocial Race 1.
Hickman said: “It has been fantastic day and really we have been following on from what we did at Cadwell Park, so I need to thank all of the FHO Racing BMW team.
“I have never done a 1m:47s lap around Snetterton before, let alone come close to a 1m:46s this afternoon, so I am really happy with that.
“I have traditionally during my career been rubbish in qualifying and getting those flying laps in, so this year I have really been practicing it and trying to get that super quick lap in – it seems to have worked!
“That said, our pace even on used tyres was strong so I am happy with how this first day has gone, we need to keep working on that, and I might even treat myself to a bit of cake now!"
Brookes maintained third ahead of Jackson with O’Halloran dropping to fifth in the final moments of the session.
Glenn Irwin was sixth for Honda Racing after running inside the top three earlier in the session, holding off Rory Skinner who had a strong opening day in Norfolk.
Bradley Ray had approached the final five minutes of the session inside the top five, but the flurry of improvements in the closing stages meant he finished eighth on combined times ahead of the leading Buildbase Suzuki of Gino Rea.
Tommy Bridewell completed the top ten ahead of Tarran Mackenzie and Andrew Irwin, with the leading 12 riders progressing directly into tomorrow’s Qualifying 2 session.
The first riders to miss out on the top 12 and will need to progress through Qualifying 1 tomorrow include local ace Ryan Vickers, Christian Iddon and Dan Linfoot.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Snetterton, SUPERPICKS Combined Free Practice results:
1. Peter Hickman (FHO Racing BMW) 1m:47.074s
2. Danny Buchan (SYNETIQ BMW) +0.059s
3. Josh Brookes (VisionTrack Ducati) +0.278s
4. Lee Jackson (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) +0.281s
5. Jason O'Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) +0.316s
6. Glenn Irwin (Honda Racing) +0.517s
7. Rory Skinner (FS-3 Racing Kawasaki) +0.544s
8. Bradley Ray (Rich Energy OMG Racing BMW) +0.631s
9. Gino Rea (Buildbase Suzuki) +0.652s
10. Tommy Bridewell (Oxford Products Racing Ducati) +0.726s
11. Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +0.774s
12. Andrew Irwin (SYNETIQ BMW) +0.897s
For the full result please click here