Broc Parkes and Kawasaki World Superbike team-mate Sheridan Morais, making a special guest entry in this weekend's MCE Insurance British Superbike triple header at Brands Hatch, finished Friday practice first and second on the timesheets.
Having been third (Morais) and sixth (Parkes) during the damp morning session, full-time WSBK racer Parkes became the only rider of the weekend so far to dip under the 1min 27sec barrier in the faster afternoon session.
“I really like the circuit and enjoy racing here and the fact that we need as much time on the track as possible with the Ninja ZX-10R to test means this is good opportunity for us," said Parkes. “This is a bonus for us and we want to get some decent results here as this is Paul [Bird's] old hunting ground.”
South African Morais, once again drafted in to replace the injured Makoto Tamada, was just 0.113sec slower around the demanding Brands Hatch GP circuit.
“The competition here is really high and all the boys are really competitive - to me this feels like a world championship event. Everyone will be flying and we have been working on some changes to the chassis so that we are in the best possible shape for qualifying," said Morais, who has raced the circuit previously in European Superstock action.
Hydrex Honda's Stuart Easton, who won the British Supersport title while riding for Bird's team (who were also twice British Superbike champions), was best of the BSB regulars in third - over half a second slower than Parkes.
Worx Crescent Suzuki's Tommy Hill was fourth in both sessions, with morning pace setter Chris Walker slipping back to fifth on his Motorpoint/Henderson Yamaha.
Frenchman Julien da Costa was quickest of the BSB Kawasakis in sixth, with another WSBK star, Karl Muggeridge, dropping from second to seventh on his HM Plant Honda debut.
Michael Rutter made its four ZX-10Rs in the top eight, with BSB championship leader Leon Camier only ninth for Airwaves Yamaha.
Camier, riding the Airwaves Yamaha, goes into the three races – the first of which is on Saturday afternoon – knowing that a hat-trick would see him beat the record of 13 victories in a season set by Niall Mackenzie back in 1997.
Team-mate James Ellison was ranked 28th and last after failing to set a fast lap in either session.
John Laverty completed the top ten aboard the Buildbase Kawasaki while Gary Mason, the leader in the Mirror.co.uk Cup title chase, ran fastest in that category, with a lap of 1m 28.651sec on his Quay Garage Honda to be two tenths up on his title rival Martin Jessopp with the Riders Racing Honda.