'Stalker', riding at a track he knows well from World Superbikes, battled cold and blustery conditions as he tested tyres and settings on his Rizla Suzuki. His lap time was only 2/10ths-of-a-second behind the provisional front row and he is in a good position to progress in practice and qualification tomorrow.
Cal Crutchlow suffered a poor start to his home event when he crashed at the third turn on his out lap in the first session. He picked himself up and finished 11th overall just over a second behind the quickest man on the day, Ducati's Gregorio Lavilla.
Superbike racing starts at 1240 on Sunday at the 2.13-mile long circuit in Northamptonshire.
"It's been freezing cold at Silverstone all day but that hasn't stopped us from making strong progress with the Rizla Suzuki. The biggest positive is we have found a good tyre combination that should work well over a race distance.
"I was able to run quickly but there are still areas we need to work on. I'd like my GSX-R to be more comfortable and to find a little more confidence for running through the corners. We have ideas and I'm sure we can progress."
"On my very first lap, in incredibly cold conditions and with new tyres, I lost the front end and crashed. It was a silly mistake and while I was unhurt, it dented my confidence and I didn't make best use of the first session.
"I got my head into gear and took 2.5-seconds off my lap time in the afternoon and got through some good testing. I am suffering from a little bit of chatter and want more consistency from my rear brake so we will be looking to fix that in the morning before qualification."
Simon Buckmaster - Team Manager:
"Seventh and 11th on the time-sheets doesn't sound great but I think we are more competitive than that suggests. Chris is only a fraction away from the front row and is making solid progress with his Rizla Suzuki. On his last lap he recorded a quicker time that would have put him fifth - but a red flag was shown and it didn't count.
"Cal had a tough start to the day with an early crash that we have attributed to cold tyres and very cold track. He bounced back this afternoon and although he only recorded the 11th fastest time, he was baulked by traffic on virtually every lap. His split times show that if he gets a clear run he can get close to Chris's times, which is potential front row.
"I think both our riders are in the mix and should be able to compete well inside the top 10. At this stage I am reasonably confident we can score decent results this weekend."
Friday Practice Times:
1: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) 1:26.158
2: Tommy Hill (Yamaha) +0.305
3: Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.454
4: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) +0.498
5: Leon Camier (Honda) +0.548
6: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.566
7: Chris Walker (Rizla Suzuki) +0.671
8: Shane Byrne (Honda) +0.677
9: Tom Sykes (Honda) +0.738
10: Michael Rutter (Kawasaki) +0.895
11: Cal Crutchlow (Rizla Suzuki) +1.188