The in-form Tom Sykes swept to the top of the timesheets as the ninth round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship opened up with the first free practice session of the weekend at Cadwell Park.

The Rizla Suzuki rider led for the majority of the 50-minute session, hitting the front after just ten minutes before gradually lowering his fastest time to an eventual 1min 28.398secs.

Half a second quicker than his nearest competition for almost its entirety, Shane Byrne eventually brought the gap down to three tenths of a second, although he remains a comfortable distance off the Oulton Park and Knockhill winner.

Buoyed by his podium finish at Knockhill, Karl Harris hauled his Rob Mac Yamaha up to a promising third fastest, while HM Plant duo Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow followed closely in fourth and fifth. Haslam did suffer a fall in the session, although he got going again straight away.

Leon Camier put his terrible crash at Cadwell Park last year behind him to set the sixth fastest time, ahead of Michael Rutter and Simon Andrews, the latter rider still reeling from various injuries sustained in a fall earlier last month.

Scott Smart proved the best of the Kawasaki riders in ninth, while Tristan Palmer rounded out the top ten positions. James Ellison, meanwhile, could only manage eight laps on the way to 14th fastest.

Gary Mason led the way in the Daily Star Cup in 11th overall, the Quay Garage Honda rider two tenths and four positions better than Chris Burns on the STP MV Agusta. John Laverty, who is still nursing a broken rib, made a low key return down in 20th.

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