Tommy Hill's quest to begin the MCE British Superbike title showdown with as many podium credits as possible got off to a good start at Cadwell Park as he paced first free practice.
The Swan Yamaha rider currently leads the way in terms of podium credits, ahead of Shane Byrne and John Hopkins. However, with the latter rider absent due to injury, Hill has a prime opportunity to stretch his advantage ahead of the all-important three-round shootout.
Though Byrne was in contention with the second fastest time, the HM Plant Honda rider was half a second adrift of the in-form Hill.
With Hill, Byrne and Hopkins all guaranteed a spot in the title showdown, attention is focused on the three remaining places, currently held by Michael Laverty, Josh Brookes and Ryuichi Kiyonari. All three got their weekend off to a solid start, with Laverty seventh, Brookes third and Kiyonari in fourth.
However, their closest rival Michael Rutter was similarly on the pace, setting the fifth best lap on the Rapid Bathams Ducati. Peter Hickman was sixth fastest, while Chris Walker, James Ellison and leading EVO rider Glen Richards completed the top ten.
Elsewhere, Tommy Bridewell was 16th fastest on his first official outing aboard the Motorpoint Yamaha, while John Simpson's BSB debut saw him go 23rd, ironically ahead of the man he replaced at Splitlath Aprilia, Hudson Kennaugh, the South African debuting for PR Kawasaki this weekend.