John Hopkins heads into qualifying for the eighth round of the 2011 MCE British Superbike Championship at Brands Hatch as the rider to beat after setting the fastest time of the weekend in FP2.

The American became the first man to dip below 1min 26secs as he improved his best in the closing stages of a session, a lap time that put him three tenths clear of championship leader Shane Byrne.

Having topped testing and FP1, Tommy Hill had to settle for third this time, though he was just 0.007secs slower than Byrne.

Alex Lowes popped up into the top five for the first time this weekend aboard the MSS Colchester Kawasaki, far out pacing the factory Kawasaki team he was racing against on the world stage at Silverstone a week ago, Joan Lascorz 18th and Broc Parkes 19th.

Michael Laverty rounded out the top five, ahead of top EVO rider Graeme Gowland, the WFR Honda rider once again well inside the top ten.

Martin Jessopp also maintained his good form to go seventh best, ahead of potential title contender Josh Brookes, while James Westmoreland and Gary Mason made up the remainder of the top ten.

Elsewhere, Glenn Allerton suffered a fall on the Doodson BMW, while James Ellison failed to set a time after suffering technical issues on the SMT Honda.