Josh Brookes says he wasn't surprised to see Shane Byrne return to form but isn't deterred by his main BSB championship title rival after Friday practice at Oulton Park.

The MCE British Superbike championship leader has enjoyed complete control after taking six consecutive race wins heading into the last round before the Showdown takes effect. Brookes picked up where he left off from at Cadwell Park but didn't have things his own way during FP2 with John Hopkins stealing top spot with a late flying lap.

The confident Milwaukee Yamaha rider shrugged off losing out to Hopkins as his eye was caught by Byrne's rediscovered pace, with the PBM Kawasaki rider finishing the day third quickest.

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"It doesn't matter whether it is Shakey or any other person if someone is close in lap times or a threat for the race then you've got to ride better or improve the bike," Brookes said. "I'm not surprised at all to see Shakey in the top positions because that is where we expect him to be.

"It doesn't change anything for me. I've still got to beat whoever it trying to beat me regardless of what the name is next to the dot on the screen."

Brookes says he was reasonably pleased with his pace in the morning session while trying out a new exhaust, topping FP1 by just 0.023s from Byrne, but experiments with gearing stalled his progress during the second session.

"We ran the whole morning session on the one tyre so that was quite pleasing and in the afternoon we tried a different gearing pattern and made changes," he explained. "From that point we never really recovered that same setting, we changed the bike to suit the gearing and that didn't feel right.

"We finished this afternoon off not where we wanted or needed to be but it should be easy to put the bike back how it was and try again and I'm sure we'll go quicker."