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Sep 7, 2012

James Westmoreland Quickest In British Superbike Practice Friday At Donington Park (Updated)

James Westmoreland (22).


Free practice one:
1: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) 1m:30.636s
2: Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) +0.007s
3: Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) +0.145s
4: James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) +0.187s
5: Luca Scassa (Padgetts Honda) +0.247s
6: Alastair Seeley (Tyco Suzuki) +0.256s

Free practice two:
1: James Westmoreland (WFR Honda) 1m:30.346s
2: Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) +0.017s
3: Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) +0.071s
4: Alex Lowes (WFR Honda) +0.105s
5: Alastair Seeley (WFR Honda) +0.348s
6: Luca Scassa (Padgetts Honda) +0.482s


James Westmoreland underlined his determination to snatch one of the two remaining Title Fighter places in the Showdown for the MCE Insurance British Superbike crown as he dramatically set the pace in the opening free practice sessions at Donington Park ahead of the decisive ninth round at the Leicestershire circuit.

The WFR Honda rider is one of the eight contenders bidding for the remaining two places to complete the six riders who will be elevated to "Title Fighter" status after these races and Westmoreland eclipsed both of the already qualified Michael Laverty (Samsung Honda) and Josh Brookes (Tyco Suzuki) in the battle for the top spot.

Westmoreland's team-mate Alex Lowes who gave WFR their first ever pole start and podium finish in the previous round at Cadwell Park to move into the crucial sixth place was also on the pace in fourth. He had been out-gunned in the first session by Brookes whose Tyco Suzuki team-mate Alastair Seeley kept his hopes of making the top six alive with consistently fast laps.

However Tommy Bridewell who is currently fifth in the standings on the Supersonic BMW and seventh placed Padgett's Honda rider Ian Lowry both need to find more pace in Saturday's final qualifying to maintain their hopes, improving their current tenth and fourteenth fastest positions.

Noriyuki Haga, who slipped from sixth to eighth in the rankings having missed the previous round because of a broken collarbone crashed off his Swan Yamaha at Redgate bashing his other shoulder, but will race on and is looking to drastically improve his lap times after ending the day 16th. Local hero Chris Walker and Stuart Easton also need to do close the deficit in tomorrow's qualifying.

Series leader Tommy Hill crashed at Coppice without injury as he continues to defend his championship title.

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More, from a press release issued by Swan Yamaha:


The Swan Yamaha team had a challenging opening day to the ninth round of the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship at Donington Park today as Tommy Hill and Noriyuki Haga ended the opening two free practice sessions in eighth and sixteenth respectively.

Hill already has his position confirmed as a Title Fighter in the Showdown and continued to make progress throughout the two sessions until the closing stages this afternoon when he tipped off at Coppice unhurt. Hill remains unfazed and is ready to challenge for the pole position tomorrow at the Leicestershire circuit. Haga was passed fit to ride this morning and returned to the track as he bids to snatch the sixth place in the standings; he was overcoming the collarbone injury sustained in the previous round to move up the order until he also had a crash at Redgate ending his time on track prematurely. Haga was unhurt in the crash and is determined to fight for a strong qualifying performance tomorrow.

Hill said: "I knew the first session was going to be tough as we were already down a day as some of the other teams had been testing. We know what direction we need to head in now and we were up there in the session this afternoon before the crash; it wasn't anything big as I had saved it but dropped it on the grass but couldn't obviously pick it back up again. We have some more changes to make tomorrow and we will be ready for qualifying. We just need to keep moving forward as today certainly wasn't where we need or want to be but it is tomorrow and Sunday that count."

Haga said: "It is good to be back at Donington Park but a shame to have had a crash. I just lost the front so we need to work some more on the balance here to push harder tomorrow. I don't have too much pain, just sometimes with the change in direction at places like Craner Curves you can feel it but it is ok. I know this track well so for sure we just need to get the bike working for here. My lap times were not so bad with a broken collarbone so we need to find more consistency and feeling tomorrow."

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More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:

Tyco Suzuki riders Josh Brookes and Alastair Seeley made a solid start to this weekend's British Superbike Championship ninth round at Donington Park as Brookes posted the quickest time in the opening Free Practice session and was third in the second despite being held up in traffic, although the Australian is relaxed and looking forward to Qualifying tomorrow.

Seeley was also in the mix at the sharp-end of proceedings on his GSX-R1000 Superbike taking sixth and fifth positions on the opening day as he maintains his upbeat pursuit of a "Top-Six Showdown" place.

In 1000cc Superstock class, American youngster PJ Jacobsen continues to impress after posting the third fastest time in the opening Qualifying session aboard the latest GSX-R1000 Superstock machine on his Donington debut.

Said Brookes: "Everything is working really well. We came here previously to a track day and it was a good decision as I've felt fresh in my mind today and had a really comfortable opening session. I didn't set any amazing lap times but we were fastest in FP1; then in the second session we set out to work on tyre life. I was comfortably in second or third place on a worn tyre - then when we put a new one in, we went P1. I had traffic on the last three laps and despite going 'purple-purple' in the first two sectors, I got held up. I'm happy how things are going and I've gained more than a bit of confidence for tomorrow's qualifying."

Seeley said: "It's good to be back on the flowing Donington circuit where I've had some success previously and we're in the mix. I've just got to do my own job this weekend and ignore what's happening around me and if that's good enough, then we are in with a shout."

Jacobsen said: "I loved the layout of the track when I was here for the track day a few weeks ago and today we've just picked up where we left off. I'm having fun on the big Suzuki and tomorrow it's just a matter of improving things to make sure we get a good grid spot."

Team Manager Phillip Neill added: "Donington has that international feel about it and with it being the last round before the Showdown there will always be a high level of anticipation and expectancy. Josh is relaxed and up for a challenge this weekend and a good start always breeds confidence in a rider. I'm also pleased to see Alastair settling in quickly and we all know what he's capable of when confident."