Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes made his intentions clear as the Aussie topped the free practice leaderboard at Assen on Friday.
The legendary Dutch track hosts the opening round of the MCE British Superbike Championship Showdown with Brookes leading reigning champion and PBM Kawasaki star Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne by only two points.
It was the Yamaha rider who struck the first blow in drying conditions yesterday after rain showers as he led the way in FP1 and FP2, with Byrne ending the afternoon session sixth quickest, 0.9 seconds behind his title rival.
Quattro Plant Kawasaki’s Luke Mossey was second fastest in FP2, 0.7 seconds behind Brookes, with Christian Iddon (Bennetts Suzuki) and Jakub Smrz – also riding in the Milwaukee colours this weekend – in fourth.
Brookes said: “I was quite surprised this morning as I slipped off the paint line on the edge of the track because I was not focused on what I was doing, thinking ahead about the marshals on the track.
“I had an eye on the on the track and drifted too wide – I was a little tentative coming back onto the track afterwards and it gave the guys a lot of work on the bike, for something that was avoidable.
“Then it was a case of not making any mistakes and to go to the top of the session, then after the rain in the afternoon I sat time out, waiting for the track to dry,” he added.
“I was able to go out, get into the rhythm that I know that I can here and I did that.
“I am just focused on myself - everyone will be trying to do their best, either to try for the title, or with jobs for next season in mind.”
Ireland’s Jack Kennedy was an excellent fifth on the WD40 Kawasaki ahead of Byrne, while Michael Laverty was the next of the title fighters in seventh on the Tyco BMW.
Qualifying takes place on Saturday with Sunday’s races scheduled for 12.25pm and 4.30pm (BST) respectively.
In the Supersport class, Luke Stapleford clocked the fastest time in the dry in FP1 on the Profile Triumph, with rain in the afternoon preventing quicker laps.
Championship leader Stapleford was 0.6 seconds ahead of Carrick’s Glenn Irwin on the Gearlink Kawasaki, with Jake Dixon on the Smiths Triumph in third.
Jordanstown’s Andy Reid has been ruled out for the remainder of the season through injury.
Portadown man Marshall Neill was 20th.
In the damp FP2 session, Dixon was fastest from Stapleford and Irwin.