Tommy Hill has laid down the gauntlet as the 2010 British Superbike Championship Showdown officially got under way at Croft, the Suzuki rider topping both Friday practice sessions.

Having won his first race in five months last time out at Cadwell Park, Hill carried his form through to Croft as he ended day one proceedings one tenth up on fellow Suzuki rider Michael Laverty.

Hill was also quickest in the morning, though damp conditions made the afternoon session better representative of the coming weekend.

It was a good session for the six title contenders, though Laverty and Michael Rutter shook things up a bit in second and third respectively. Hill's closest rivals at the end of 'phase one' of the BSB season, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Josh Brookes, could only manage seventh and ninth.

Still chasing his first top five finish at BSB level, Dan Linfoot was fourth fastest at the end of the day, ahead of Kawasaki's Simon Andrews and Swan Honda's James Ellison.

Between the two HM Plant Hondas, the sixth and final contender Alastair Seeley was eighth quickest.

Elsewhere, BSB debutant Loris Baz was an encouraging 11th fastest on the Motorpoint Yamaha, the young Frenchman ahead of Tommy Bridewell and Yukio Kagayama.

In the Evo reckoning, Chris Burns - whose Splitlath Aprilia team are now eligible for Evo points again - was fastest in 20th, ahead of David Johnson and Hudson Kennaugh.