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Francis leads Hickman to top opening free practice at Brands Hatch

Joe Francis snatched the leading position in the opening Bennetts British Superbike Championship free practice at Brands Hatch, stealing the top spot on his final flying lap of the damp opening session on the Grand Prix circuit.

The overnight rain meant the session took place in wet conditions, but it continued to improve and times began to tumble in the closing stages. Earlier in the session Josh Brookes had set the benchmark with Jason O'Halloran and Hickman all taking turns at the top of the timesheets.

However in the closing ten minutes, Hickman had surged to the top of the order, displacing Ben Currie who had a strong start on the Quattro Plant – JG Speedfit Kawasaki, before returning back to the top shortly afterwards.

Francis though was on a string of faster laps and he moved back to the top just at the chequered flag, holding off Hickman and Currie with Brookes the leading title contender in fourth place.

Andrew Irwin was fifth fastest for Honda Racing ahead of O’Halloran and Scott Redding who leapt up the order in the closing moments of the session on the second Be Wiser Ducati, pushing Tarran Mackenzie back into eighth. Matt Truelove and Josh Owens completed the top ten, with the third title contender Tommy Bridewell in eleventh place.

Bennetts British Superbike Championship, Brands Hatch, Free Practice 1:

  1. Joe Francis (Lloyd & Jones Bowker BMW 1:35.483s
  2. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) +0.142s
  3. Ben Currie (Quattro Plant JG Speedfit Kawasaki) +0.417s
  4. Josh Brookes (Be Wiser Ducati) +0.545s
  5. Andrew Irwin (Honda Racing) +0.611s
  6. Jason O'Halloran (McAMS Yamaha) +1.255s
  7. Scott Redding (Be Wiser Ducati) +1.943s
  8. Tarran Mackenzie (McAMS Yamaha) +2.008s
  9. Matt Truelove (Raceways Yamaha) +2.205s
  10. Josh Owens (CDH Racing) +2.327s

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