Josh Brookes got his quest to snatch the lead of the MCE British Superbike standings from Tommy Hill off to a good start as he ended the first day of free practice in front.
The Australian, fresh from his point-scoring turn as a World Superbike wild-card at Silverstone, set the best time of day with a 1min 26.582secs to edge out WSBK regular Tom Sykes.
For the second year in succession, the Paul Bird-helmed Kawasaki team have entered two bikes – for WSBK racer Sykes and stand-in Ian Lowry – to race at Brands Hatch, with Sykes reacquainting himself with BSB competition by going second despite having only flown in from Japan earlier this morning.
A good session for the riders currently holding down positions inside the top six overall, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Michael Rutter – who was fastest in FP1 – and Michael Laverty followed in third, fourth and fifth.
Alastair Seeley was sixth fastest on the second Relentless Suzuki, ahead of James Ellison, Yukio Kagayama, Gary Mason and Lowry, who was impressively just 1.2secs off the pace having only jumped on the ZX-10R for the first time in FP1.
However, it was a disappointing opening day for Worx Crescent Suzuki's Tommy Hill, who languished in the second-half of the timesheets throughout the day, the series leader ending it down in 19th and as one of the lowest place main series riders.
In the Evo class, Jentin BMW's Steve Brogan was the comfortable pace setter in 18th overall, eight tenths faster than title rival Hudson Kennaugh on the Splitlath Aprilia.