Tommy Hill held down the fastest time as the eighth round of the MCE British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch got underway officially, the Swan Yamaha rider heading his key title rivals.

Having been quickest during the test session around the Indy configuration of the Kent circuit yesterday, Hill carried that form to the Grand Prix layout, which will be used for this weekend's three races.

With the current top six riders in the standings filling the top seven positions, John Hopkins tailed Hill in second position as he made his first appearance of the weekend, while Shane Byrne recovered from an early mechanical problem to set the third best time.

Ryuichi Kiyonari and Michael Laverty completed the top five, while Martin Jessopp was a fine sixth as he nudged down Josh Brookes on the Relentless by TAS Suzuki.

A good session for the Rapid Bathams Ducati team, Jessopp's team-mate Michael Rutter was eighth best, ahead of top EVO rider Graeme Gowland and James Ellison.

Elsewhere, the factory Kawasaki World Superbike team were down to 15th and 20th in the order of Joan Lascorz and Broc Parkes , the latter behind his countryman Glenn Allerton, the Australian deputising for Tom Tunstall on the Doodson BMW this weekend.

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