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Shane Byrne has indicated his intentions to lead from the front during the 2012 MCE British Superbike Championship finale at Brands Hatch as he paced first free practice.

The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider, who commands a slender nine point lead over Josh Brookes into the triple-header showdown, is the favourite to triumph at his home circuit and duly showed as much in FP1 as he went almost a second faster.

Though lap times were skewed by the session only fully drying out in the very final minutes, Byrne was well ahead of his title rivals, with Karl Harris assuming the role of chaser in second position aboard the Quattro Plant Kawasaki.

Silverstone double winner Alex Lowes got his weekend off to a strong start in third place, ahead of WFR Honda team-mate James Westmoreland, while Pr1mo Bournemouth Kawasaki rider Chris Walker headed off title contenders Brookes, Tommy Hill and Tommy Bridewell.

Still eyeing his first win as he prepares to bring the curtain down on what has been an indifferent maiden BSB campaign, Noriyuki Haga was ninth fastest, with Peter Hickman rounding out the top ten on his Buildbase BMW.

Elsewhere, Mark Aitchison marked his return to action by going 14th fastest on the Splitlath Redmond Aprilia, while Alex Polita was 18th best on the Lloyds British Ducati 1199 Panigale and Jason O'Halloran was 19th aboard the Padgetts Honda he will campaign this weekend.