Shane Byrne got his quest for a fourth MCE British Superbike Championship off to a positive start as he topped second free practice at a dry Brands Hatch.

With damp weather consigning most to the pit lane for FP1, the cold but dry conditions of FP2 prompted most riders to get some mileage under their belts ahead of this weekend's opener around the shorter Indy-configuration.

Scene of his triumphant third title win at the end of last season, local rider Byrne was immediately up to speed on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki with a time of 46.787secs, a marker that could only be rivalled by Alex Lowes on the Samsung Honda as he too dipped below 47secs.

A strong start for Honda, Tommy Bridewell was an impressive third fastest on Bathams-backed Quay Garage Racing's return to BSB competition, ahead of former champion Ryuichi Kiyonari on the second of the Samsung-liveried CBR100RRs.

Another rider on the comeback trail this weekend, James Ellison headed up the Milwaukee Yamaha effort in fifth position, ahead of last year's runner-up Josh Brookes on the Tyco Suzuki and James Westmoreland on the Buildbase BMW.

Less than a second off the pace, Karl Harris was an encouraging eighth best on the PR Kawasaki, ahead of former World Superbike front runner Jakub Smrz, who has been able to get a deal together with Padgetts Honda to ride this weekend. Chris Walker rounded out the top ten on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki.

Elsewhere, PJ Jacobsen was the quickest of the Superstock 1000 graduates in 13th, ahead of Keith Farmer in 14th, Lee Costello in 19th and Howie Mainwaring in 22nd. Of the other remaining international contingent, Josh Waters was 15th, ahead of Robbin Harms in 17th and Matteo Baiocco in 18th.