Michael Laverty feels his ride in MotoGP last weekend for Aprilia has given him the boost needed to grab the top spot during Friday's free practice at Brands Hatch.

The Tyco BMW rider stood in for the recently departed Marco Melandri for Aprilia in MotoGP at the Sachsenring last weekend and it appears to have galvanised the Northern Irishman. In combination with the improvements his Tyco BMW squad has found from the S1000RR Laverty was able to work his way to the top of pile for the first time since returning to MCE British Superbike last winter.

Laverty has edged out Shane Byrne and Josh Brookes at the top with his fastest lap of 1m 26.109s and is delighted after struggling to score points in the early stages of the season.

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"I am feeling really comfortable with the bike and knew that it was all coming together," Laverty said. "We had been going round in circles earlier, but now I feel at home.

"Riding in the MotoGP was good experience, I am adaptable and able to jump off one bike on to another in an exciting couple of weeks."

After discussing the 'King of the Brands' challenge for race two at Brands Hatch - where the front three qualifiers will be offered the chance to start from last and in return for double points, a special edition trophy and a potential ?50,000 prize fund - Laverty says he may opt for it but only if he is confident he will be able to gain more points from it as he targets a Showdown spot.

"I need a bit more speed to get through from the back," he said. "I know how well those guys ride, there are a lot of good bikes, a lot of fast riders, so it is something to weigh up on the day, but most importantly is getting points."