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Sykes on the pace at Donington Park

TOM SYKES and Atsushi Watanabe along with their Rizla Suzuki technicians spent the two 50-minute free practice sessions today at Donington Park, dialling in both their GSX-R1000s ahead of round four of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship.

Sykes, who favours the 2.5 mile GP circuit, worked on perfecting his already excellent handling Rizla Suzuki chassis, reducing his lap times to 1min 32.718secs just 0.566secs off Leon Haslam who put in the fastest time of 1min 32.152secs.

His team-mate, Atsu also worked hard and had a productive first free practice finishing in 12th place; however his second session ended prematurely when he slipped off uninjured at Coppice corner. He had been making progress towards the top 10 as the session unfolded and that will be his target tomorrow for qualifying.

The singular 50-minute qualifying session will take place tomorrow, 25th May at 1410. Race one takes place on Monday 26th May at 1300 with race two at 1530. Live coverage of race day can be seen on Eurosport 2 from 1230 to 1630, a one hour highlights show will also broadcast on Eurosport 2 from 2045 to 2145.

Jack Valentine, Team Manager Rizla Suzuki: "I'm quite happy with today as we are in contention, we are just half a second off pole position and there is more to come tomorrow. We were making small changes to the chassis and Tom put in his fastest time on lap 18 which is full race distance. All in all I'm pleased with how things have gone.

"Atsu did well in the first session but unfortunately he stepped off during the second session which slowed his progress. His time from this morning's session would put him 13th overall so again there is more to come and I know tomorrow he will dig deep and push hard to get into the top 10."

Free practice results:
1: Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:32.152
2: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) +0.073
3: Karl Harris (Yamaha) +0.104
4: Shane Byrne (Ducati) +0.267
6: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +0.825
7: Leon Camier (Ducati) +0.949
8: Billy McConnell (Kawasaki) +1.355
9: James Ellison (Honda) +1.418
10: Stuart Easton (Kawasaki) +1.557