Micheal Rutter got his 2004 British Superbike campaign off to a superb start, shattering the Silverstone International lap record in Friday practice.

Michael Rutter shattered the Silverstone International circuit lap record during testing for this Sunday's double race opening round of the British Superbike Championship - the 30 year old HM Plant Honda rider clipped a full second off the record as he powered around the 2.213 mile Northamptonshire circuit in a time of 1min 26.432secs, an average speed of 90.94mph.

"The team has worked hard with the set up of my all-new bike, I am comfortable with the bike and have been consistent throughout testing here. I'm really happy, but now I've get to do it all again in qualifying and the races," said Rutter after the flying lap.

"I want to get out there, winning races and the championship - that's my aim after coming so close to the title in the past."

Rutter was a third of a second ahead of John Reynolds on the qualifying leaderboard. The Rizla Suzuki rider is chasing a third domestic title. "I can't wait to get out there, and want a solid points haul from the opening round - it is important, but you have to remember that while you can't win the title here, you can lose it."

The Nottingham rider has painful memories of a crash during qualifying for last year's opening round which efffectively wrecked his title hopes, despite strong riding that took him to the runner-up spot.

He intends to go one better this time around but will be under pressure from a growing Japanese challenge.

Ryuichi Kiyonari, Rutter's team-mate is well on the pace, with a best lap of 1min 27.418secs, to be third fastest, despite sliding off at Becketts at the end of the session, while Yukio Kagayama on the second Suzuki was only marginally slower, and sixth best, as he returns to the series having recovered from the injuries sustained in a crash at Cadwell Park last year.

Aussie Dean Thomas was a surprise fourth fastest with a time of 1min 27.431secs, just ahead of pre-season favourite Sean Emmett. The MonsterMob Ducati rider lapped consistently, and is confident that he can peg Rutter.

"I am coming to my peak and feel that my time for the title is overdue," said Emmett, who twice has been third in the overall rankings. "I am excited about the first round and like to think that I will get at least a win and a top three finish. I can't wait for the races here."

 

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