With the early season break over, action in the British Superbike Championship got back underway on Friday with the annual visit to Knockhill for round 4 of the series. It's been a 7 week gap since the last round to allow for the big road racing events in Ireland and the Isle of Man, and the teams and riders were keen to get back on track.
The enforced delay was obviously too much for some to bear, with no less the 4 red flags in the very first superbike session of the weekend. Separate incidents in Free Practice One, saw Christian Iddon, Glenn Irwin and championship leader Leon Haslam sustaining injuries that would rule them out of the weekend before it had really got going.
Haslam completed four laps and Iddon managed only five, before heavy falls left them with neck and arm injuries respectively. Iwrin lasted slightly longer, clocking up 20 laps, before dislocating his elbow & shoulder in another nasty looking crash. Whether it was down to over eagerness or the cold windy conditions, it meant half of the top six in the title race would spend the rest of the weekend as spectators.
In between the carnage, there were few fast laps, with Honda rider Jason O'Halloran posting the best time of the session with a 48.552 second lap, ahead of Shane Bryrne, Luke Mossey and TT hero Peter Hickman.
The afternoon's FP2 session was less eventful, with most riders getting some decent track time, despite the conditions staying cold. Mossey was the best of the bunch in the session, with a lap time of 48.221, almost half a second clear of the field. There wasn't much between the rest, with the top nine riders all managing to lap under the 49 second mark and second to ninth covered by 3/10ths of a second.
Elsewhere, Keith Farmer took a stranglehold on the Supersport class, finishing top of the timesheets in both free practice sessions. Danny Buchan signalled his intentions for the weekend in the Superstock 1000's class, the Kawasaki rider posting the only sub-50 sec lap of the day while Ryan Watson clocked the fastest time of the day in the Superstock 600 class.