Elliott and Reid ready to seize their big chance
There was drama at Snetterton yesterday ahead of free practice for tomorrow's two British Superbike races when Tyco BMW rider Christian Iddon was firstly declared fit to ride following his crash at Knockhill last weekend and then had this decision reversed after the BSB medical team observed his preparation ahead of FP1.
It quickly became evident that his recent deep elbow wound and resulting skin graft was vulnerable to aggravation in racing leathers.
After discussion between the medical team and Tyco BMW, the team decided that Iddon would sit out the weekend, with the team giving its full support and track time to its fully fit riders Andy Reid and Josh Elliott and give the best chance of a points haul to protect Iddon's fourth position in the championship.
Both riders are rookies to the Superbike class, Reid announced only this week as the replacement rider for Italian Davide Giugliano, who left the team after an injury earlier in the season, with Elliott - already at the circuit to race in the Superstock 1000cc class for the team - drafted in to deputise for Iddon.
After the opening two free practice sessions, Reid was in 19th position, but over two seconds quicker than in his opening session, while Elliott, who only rode five laps in the opening practice due to a technical problem with his bike, ended up in 21st, almost five seconds quicker than his brief first few laps.
Reid said: "Don't look at the position, I have a big smile on my face and know I am on a steep learning curve. It's the first taste of 200bhp on a bike, completely alien to me, and I'm making progress every time I'm on it."
Shayne Byrne topped BSB practice, clocking the fastest ever lap around the three-mile Norfolk circuit, 0.413 seconds ahead of Jason O'Halloran, with Ulsterman Michael Laverty 17th.
Elliott, also out in Superstock 1000 practice, qualified in eighth, but just 0.8 of a second slower than pole man Danny Buchan, with Carl Phillips taking his MD Racing Suzuki to 14th position, a second behind Elliott.
After Supersport free practice, five Irish riders were amongst the seven fastest competitors with Keith Farmer leading the way, a quarter of a second ahead of Alastair Seeley in second, Jack Kennedy in fourth, Andrew Irwin fifth and David Allingham seventh ahead of qualifying for today's 10-lap sprint race.
After qualifying for today's Aon Bikecare Skerries 100 road races, just north of Dublin, Derek Sheils - on his Cookstown BE Suzuki - starts from pole position for both the Supertwins events.
The 37-year-old Dubliner is looking for a quick bounce back following a wretched TT where he finished none of his races, and will line up today with Derek McGee and Michael Sweeney alongside him on the front row of the twins race.
McGee topped the Supersport session ahead of Andy Farrell and Sheils, while Darryl Tweed and Davy Morgan were fastest in Lightweight Supersport and 250GP, with Joseph Loughlin continuing his superb debut season on the roads by leading Junior Support qualifying.
Sheils led the Supertwin qualifying ahead of McGee and Sweeney.
Roads close this morning at 9.30am ahead of a 13-race programme.
Michael Dunlop had a blast on a Norton similar to that raced by his late father Robert during the Goodwood Festival of Speed yesterday.