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Fired up Fabrizio sweeps opening day

22 February 2013

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Michel Fabrizio has put himself forward as the early favourite for success during the opening round of the 2013 World Superbike Championship after dominating the first day of free practice at Phillip Island.

Having already raised eyebrows across the paddock by topping the first practice session of the season by more than half a second on his privateer Red Devils Roma Aprilia, another similarly impressive performance in Q1 would again see Fabrizio top the timesheets.

Though marginally slower than his best FP1 effort, Fabrizio's lap time of 1min 31.317secs was still enough to rebuff Eugene Laverty's late improvement on the factory Aprilia RSV4, the Irishman falling less than a tenth shy of the top spot.

BMW's Marco Melandri ended his day in third place, two tenths off the ultimate pace, while Leon Camier confirmed Suzuki's encouraging pre-season pace by putting himself in the mix for fourth.

Following his strong turn in FP1, Chaz Davies continued to impress on the second of the GoldBet-backed BMWs in fifth, ahead of countrymen Leon Haslam and Tom Sykes on their respective Honda and Kawasaki machines.

Behind them, Davide Giugliano and Sylvain Guintoli filled positions eight and nine on their Aprilias, with Jonathan Rea sneaking tenth having spent much of the session outside the top ten.

With only 15 riders permitted to go through to Superpole this year (compared with 16 participants in 2012), the fight to reach the qualifying shootout is set to intensify on Saturday after Q1 ended with eight tenths covering 12th down to 18th.

Carlos Checa sits at the privileged side of that margin, though the Spaniard completed only a handful of laps on the Alstare Ducati after a troubled day, while Suzuki's Jules Cluzel finds himself in the danger zone after technical issues consigned him to 18th.

Between them, wild-card riders Jamie Stauffer and Glenn Allerton, along with Max Neukirchner and Loris Baz, are provisionally safe, though Ayrton Badovini, Ivan Clementi, Cluzel and Federico Sandi remain finely posed behind them.'


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