Local favourite Michel Fabrizio hit the ground running in the opening free practice session of the weekend at Monza, the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship.

The Italian swapped the top spot with Ben Spies throughout the hour-long session, but would eventually prevail with a best lap of 1min 46.177secs, three tenths quicker than the Yamaha rider.

A session defined by a series of deleted lap times - a mammoth 93 in all - as riders got to grips with the chicane interrupted high-speed circuit, Fabrizio hit the top with ten minutes remaining.

He led a top six of riders that were each present at a recent test at Monza, with Yamaha duo Spies and Tom Sykes following in second and third, just three hundredths apart, while Max Neukirchner, Yukio Kagayama and championship leader Noriyuki Haga featured just behind.

Of those not present at the test, Ten Kate Honda showed well in seventh, eighth and 11th, Ryuichi Kiyonari leading Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea, while Ducati privateers Regis Laconi and Shane Byrne split them in ninth and tenth.

Elsewhere, Leon Haslam opened up his weekend in 12th position, while new Stiggy Honda team-mate Jake Zemke made his first WSBK appearance in a respectable 23rd, just over two seconds behind Haslam after a technical problem.


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