Honda Racing's Steve Plater declared himself pleased with his fifth-placed starting position for the two races that comprise the seventh round of the British Superbike Championship.

However, after clocking the fastest time of the day in the second free practice session, he was given cause to reflect on what might have been had the problems with the track not disrupted proceedings. Pole went to championship leader Shane Byrne.

"While we were all [literally] sat around watching paint dry earlier today I would have snatched your hand off if you'd offered me fifth place on the grid," admitted Plater. "But the Honda Racing team worked really hard on helping me find a good race set-up for the VTR1000 SP-2 in the first practice session so that I could go faster in the second and it really paid off. It's just a shame that we didn't have regular qualifying because I'd have been in with a good shot at pole. Mind you, fifth place is still my best starting position of the year and I'm feeling very confident for the race."

Plater's Honda Racing team-mate Mark Heckles continued to make great strides aboard the VTR1000 SP-2. On his first visit to Rockingham, the determined Liverpudlian did exceptionally well to record the tenth fastest time of the day, despite still feeling the after effects of the massive crash he had just two weeks ago at Brands Hatch. Unfortunately, his championship position dictates that he must start Sunday's race from 13th on the grid, due to the fact that he has not competed at every round. However, John McGuinness' absence gained Heckles one extra grid position.

"I've definitely been tough on me having those two sessions cancelled," said Heckles. "It's never easy coming to a new circuit - especially so soon after the biggest crash of my life - but I think we've done pretty well considering. I was very conscious of this but the important thing is that I improved steadily throughout the two sessions and probably would have been much higher up the grid had we not had that delay earlier."

Provisional grid positions:
1. S. Byrne (Ducati)
2. M. Rutter (Ducati)
3. J. Reynolds (Suzuki)
4. G. Richards (Kawasaki)
5. S. Plater (Honda Racing)
6. G. Mason (Yamaha)
7. S. Hislop (Yamaha)
8. Y. Kagayama (Suzuki)
9. S. Smart (Kawasaki)
10. S. Emmett (Ducati)
11. L. Jackson (Kawasaki)
12. P. Young (Yamaha)
13. M. Heckles (Honda Racing)
14. J. Kirkham (Yamaha);
15. P. Jones (Suzuki);
16. N. Medd (Ducati)

 

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