Glenn Irwin set the fastest lap of the weekend so far to lead the way in the third Bennetts British Superbike Championship free practice session.
Irwin stormed to a lap of 1’34.312 just seconds before the flag fell, leading a Be Wiser Ducati one-two at the top as Shane Byrne ended the session second.
Following yesterday’s hot weather, the paddock was greeted by an even warmer day today, and as action got underway at noon, the track temperature was already sitting at a balmy 37.8 degrees.
As the session began, several riders took their turn to hit the top spot, and it was Buildbase Suzuki’s Bradley Ray who was the first to get into the1’34s as he shot to the top.
But Leon Haslam was close behind, and the JG Speedfit Kawasaki man quickly deposed Ray with a quicker lap of 1’34.910s.
After that early flourish of activity, things at the top didn’t change for the next half an hour.
With just over 10 minutes to go, Danny Buchan put in a fast one to move his FS-3 Racing Kawasaki into third place ahead of Byrne, although the defending champ soon stole the spot back.
Honda Racing’s Jason O’Halloran – who had been quickest on Saturday morning – suddenly went to the top with just over five minutes to go and then went one better a lap later as he banked a 1’34.600.
But on track, Byrne was looking threatening as he set the fastest times in the first two sectors, before dropping time in the second two to move up to second.
And then it was Irwin’s turn, as he scorched to his fast lap with 21 seconds to go, dipping under the existing race lap record and with no-one left on a fast lap, the time stuck.
O’Halloran stayed third while Haslam was fourth ahead of RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki rider Jake Dixon in fifth.
Ray was sixth with Buchan seventh as Movuno.com Halsall Racing’s Tommy Bridewell set the eighth quickest time with Peter Hickman’s Smiths Racing BMW ninth and Josh Brookes on the McAMS Yamaha 10th.
Both Mackenzie boys crashed out in the early part of the session, Taz tipping off his McAMS Yamaha at Island 12 minutes in, while Taylor came off the Moto Rapido Ducati a few minutes later at Shell Oils. They were both unscathed and were able to continue.
TAG Anvil Hire Yamaha’s James Ellison stopped on his out lap and managed to get back to the garage as his team rushed to fix the stricken machine.
Roads man Dean Harrison also found his session was cut short when his Silicone Engineering Kawasaki stopped at Fosters.