Troy Bayliss began his final weekend of World Superbike competition on Ducati's home Italian asphalt with third position during an unexpectedly wet opening day at Vallelunga.

Bayliss, who can clinch his third WSBK crown by maintaining his 101 point title lead on Sunday, set a best lap 0.6secs behind his likely successor, Noriyuki Haga - but those times will count for nothing if, as expected, better weather arrives on Saturday.

"It doesn't feel like we're at Vallelunga to be honest, as all the test sessions we've done here in the past have been in hot, sunny conditions and now we've had rain all day today," said Troy. "It's rained solidly but at least we had good settings from the last wet weekend in Donington so it's gone ok for us.

"Tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny again so we hope that's the case and that we can have a positive, and dry, weekend," the Australian confirmed. "I'm feeling comfortable on the bike and so the plan is to do two good races on Sunday, take some solid points and see what the situation is at the end of the weekend."

Team-mate Michel Fabrizio was just sixteenth fastest and looking forward to starting from scratch on Saturday.

"The problem this afternoon was that just as I was starting to pick up pace it started to rain more heavily, meaning I had to come back into the garage," explained the Roman. "I didn't get another chance to improve my times after that as the rain continued. There were certain points of the track where I was sliding a lot, a lack of grip that meant I was losing the rear. Anyway, they are saying that tomorrow should be sunny again so I'm hopeful that that's the case and me and team will start afresh, improving on today's performance."


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