Initially it was Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Shane Byrne who was in the provisional pole position with just over thirty minutes of the session remaining. But 25 minutes later Lowes clocked a 1’37.281 and continued to improve going two tenths of a second faster just before the chequered flag appeared.
But however hard Byrne tried he could not shake off the small Tyco Suzuki figure of PJ Jacobsen. The New Yorker was constantly on the heels of Byrne and Lowes, and at the end of the free practice the twenty-year-old equalled the best lap time of the reigning champ and on their last lap's both clocked a 1’37.319.
Milwaukee Yamaha’s James Ellison was second fastest with thirty minutes of lap time left, but in the end was three tenths of a second off the pace of Byrne and Jacobsen and finished fourth fastest, with Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki’s Noriyuki Haga rounding off the top five.
The British Superbike returnee partners Byrne as Keith Farmer is still recovering from a virus. Ellison’s new team-mate, Tommy Bridewell could not manage to find that extra pace to lap in the 1’37's barrier, and ended the session sixth quickest, followed by Padgett’s Jakub Smrz.
Title fighter, Tyco Suzuki’s Josh Brookes was nearly one second behind his diminutive team-mate, Jacobsen and was never in contention for a provisional pole spot. He had to settle for a 1’38.455. But he was three tenths of a second quicker that title rival, Samsung Honda’s Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Buildbase BMW’s Jon Kirkham rounded off the top ten and was eight one-hundredths of a second quicker than his title fighter team-mate James Westmoreland. The smaller of the two lad's finished just outside the top ten in twelfth with a 1’39.184.
Tsingtao WKbikes rider Howie Mainwaring Smart will take no further part in the weekend’s activities after breaking his collarbone in a free practice crash yesterday. Aussie David Johnson replaces the Frodsham rider for the rest of the round. The only faller during the session was Quattro Plant Kawasaki’s Chris Walker. The veteran racer fell at Haarbocht, but was unhurt.