SHANE 'Shakey' Byrne narrowly set the fastest time in the opening free practice session for the Bennetts British Superbike Championship this afternoon, edging out HM Plant Honda's Leon Haslam by just 0.001 of a second at Knockhill.
Byrne put himself at the top with 36 minutes remaining, but Haslam pushed him all the way; the 'Pocket Rocket' is determined to take his first win of the season this weekend, with his fastest lap coming towards the end of the session.
Cal Crutchlow had a difficult start to the weekend when he fell early in the session, crashing out at Butchers just over ten minutes into the opening free practice. He was able to rejoin though and ride back to the HM Plant Honda garage. At the half-way point he suffered a technical problem but was still able to finish the session in fifth.
Michael Laverty had a strong session on the Relentless Suzuki by TAS, he was fastest at the begninning of the 50-minute session and improved as the time ticked away, holding off Rizla Suzuki's Tom Sykes to set the third fastest time.
Lloyds British Yamaha's Simon Andrews was back on track despite his injury from a crash in testing last week; he posted the tenth quickest time. Stuart Easton also made a return to the track for the first time since his high-speed crash at Snetterton back in June. He ended the session 25th fastest for the MSS Discovery Kawasaki team.
The session was then red flagged when Buildbase NW200 Ducati's John Laverty crashed out at Hislops with 34 minutes remaining. The Daily Star Cup Championship leader is now expected to sit out the rest of this weekend.
Hydrex Bike Animal Honda's James Ellison was another faller in the session, crashing out with less than 20 minutes remaining at the Chicane. He finished 21st fastest on his first visit to the circuit in four years.
Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Knockhill, free practice one:
1. Shane Byrne (Airwaves Ducati) 49.221s
2. Leon Haslam (HM Plant Honda) +0.001s
3. Michael Laverty (Relentless Suzuki by TAS) +0.023s
4. Tom Sykes (Rizla Suzuki) +0.190s
5. Cal Crutchlow (HM Plant Honda) +0.331s
6. Karl Harris (Rob Mac Racing Yamaha) +0.437s
7. Michael Rutter (North West 200 Ducati) +0.449s
8. Leon Camier (Airwaves Ducati) +0.452s
9. Scott Smart (Hawk Kawasaki) +0.710s
10. Simon Andrews (Lloyds British Yamaha) +0.725s