Honda’s Andrew Irwin has topped the wet second Bennetts British Superbike free practice at Donington Park this afternoon, charging ahead of road legend Peter Hickman with his final lap while the returning Taylor Mackenzie finished in third place.
Irwin put in a 1’39.210 to open a two-tenth gap over the Smiths BMW of Hickman and those two were significantly ahead of the pack. Mackenzie finished with a 1’40.226 on the Tyco BMW which was 1.016s off the pace.
Following a dry second Supersport session, it looked like the Superbike grid would get some fully-dry track time but as soon as the leading group of riders arrived at Redgate on their outlap, opened umbrellas greeted them and it was back to pitlane for Pirelli wets.
Championship contender Josh Brookes was first to stick in some decent laptimes after the heavens opened with Hickman, Christian Iddon and Dan Linfoot also in the mix.
Tommy Bridewell snagged top spot briefly with a 1’44.33 but soon slid down the order from whence he didn’t return, finishing in 26th place after completing only nine laps.
Series leader Scott Redding also got himself into the mix early on but it was Brookes who really laid down a marker, going 1.2s clear at the top with a 1’41.929 which stayed fastest until Iddon better it with a 1’41.664,
Taylor Mackenzie shot into top spot 1’41.589 but he was almost immediately pushed to second by Brookes’ 1’40.761. However, the young Scot was soon back on top with a 1’40.755 before Irwin came from out of almost nowhere with a 1’39.775.
Redding briefly hooked second place as Joe Francis proved this morning’s times weren’t a fluke by moving into fifth on the Lloyd and Jones BMW.
Hickman snatched back top spot with a 1’39.413 but only briefly as Irwin bettered it with his final flier.
Redding hung on for fourth place with Xavi Fores, on the second Honda, pinching fifth place from Brookes with his last lap. The Australian former champ is clearly more comfortable in the rain than he was at Knockhill a few months ago.
Francis fended off a challenge from Quattro Kawasaki’s Ben Currie with Luke Mossey’s OMG Suzuki completing the top ten.
Ryan Vickers stayed ahead of Jason O’Halloran for 11th place with McAMS Yamaha team-mate Tarran Mackenzie next along. Alex Olsen and Mat Truelove rounded out the top 15.