Today was the first time the reigning British Champion tried the latest specification forks and he adapted quickly, setting the seventh fastest lap time just over a second behind quickest man on the day, Honda's Ryuichi Kiyonari.
Rizla Suzuki's James Haydon was fifth fastest and threatening to climb further up the timesheets with five minutes to go when he suffered a high-side crash coming out of Russells chicane. He is receiving treatment for muscle damage to his right shoulder and will undergo a medical examination tomorrow morning to assess his fitness to continue racing this weekend.
Superbike racing starts at 1:15pm on Sunday, July 10th, at the 1.95-mile long Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk. The action will be covered live by Sky Sports. Channel 4 will broadcast a highlights package of the race action one week later.
"When James went more than a second faster than me at the recent Croft test using new Ohlins gas forks I knew I was going to try the same suspension here at Snetterton. We have worked hard and I think the gas forks are a step forward in performance.
"Using new forks means that we are having to revisit the overall set-up of my Rizla Suzuki. I am still not completely comfortable but we are making progress every time we go out on track and there is quite a bit more to come tomorrow."
"Russells corner is the only left hand corner on the track that you are on the gas and pushing the rear tyre to its limits. Right at the end of the session I asked too much of the tyre when I was on a very fast lap and I high-sided.
"I have hurt muscles in my right shoulder and it is now under an ice-pack to control the swelling. I am resting and preparing for a medical examination in the morning. If I can get through that, I know that my Rizla Suzuki is pretty well sorted and capable of running at the front for the rest of the weekend."
Practice Times: 1: Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) 1:05.696, 2: Michael Rutter (Honda) +0.119, 3: Leon Haslam (Ducati) +0.407, 4: Tommy Hill (Yamaha) +0.835, 5: JAMES HAYDON (RIZLA SUZUKI) +0.888, 6: Dean Thomas (Kawasaki) +1.009, 7: JOHN REYNOLDS (RIZLA SUZUKI) +1.126, 8: Scott Smart (Kawasaki) +1.128, 9: Gary Mason (Honda) +1.231, 10: Gregorio Lavilla (Ducati) +1.314.