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Successful free practice for Sykes and Watanabe at Knockhill

RIZLA SUZUKI'S Tom Sykes and Atsushi Watanabe got the eighth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship at Knockhill off to a good start today, with Sykes taking third place and Watanabe finishing in an encouraging 14th.

The top 14 riders are covered by just over a second which shows just how close the on track action is at the undulating 1.3-mile Scottish venue. Sykes used both his Rizla Suzuki's during the two dry 50-minute free practice sessions, working on different chassis settings. His Rizla Suzuki technicians have a direction to go in and a few more changes to make which will fine tune the GSX-R1000 so that Sykes can make the most of its nimble chassis on this rider's circuit.

Watanabe concentrated on learning the difficult track as well as working on chassis set-up and engine braking on his Rizla Suzuki. He dropped his lap time by a quarter of a second between the two sessions and will improve further ahead of the singular 50-minute qualifying session tomorrow. Honda's Leon Haslam was fastest.

Race one is at 1300 and race two at 1530 on Sunday 10th August. Eurosport 2 will broadcast live at 1230-1630.

Jack Valentine, Team Manager Rizla Suzuki: "I'm pleased with how today has gone we are right up there at the sharp end as I expected. It is unbelievably close with just 0.002secs separating the top three. Our Rizla Suzuki is performing well and there is more to come.

"Atsu has made progress today and is learning the track well. He isn't too far away from a top ten, half a second would do it and that should come easily tomorrow, at the moment it is all going according to plan."

Free practice results:

1: Leon Haslam (Honda) 49.004
2: Shane Byrne (Ducati) +0.000
3: TOM SYKES (RIZLA SUZUKI) +0.002
4: Cal Crutchlow (Honda) +0.008
5: Michael Laverty (Suzuki) +0.193
6: Michael Rutter (Ducati) +0.317
7: Leon Camier (Ducati) +0.324
8: Billy McConnell (Kawasaki) +0.396
9: Scott Smart (Kawasaki) +0.494
10: Karl Harris (Yamaha) +0.537
14: ATSUSHI WATANABE (RIZLA SUZUKI) +1.176