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Spies sets early pace at Misano

Ben Spies picked up where he left off in the United States by claiming the quickest time in opening free practice for round eight of the World Superbike Championship at Misano.

Riding the Adriatic circuit for the first time, Spies began the session towards the lower end of the top ten before catapulting his way to the top of the timesheets with just over ten minutes remaining.

Although Michel Fabrizio usurped him from the position soon afterwards with a lap of 1min 38.154secs – four tenths quicker than anyone else at the time -, Spies snatched it back with three minutes remaining with a decisive time of 1min 38.049secs.

Prior to Spies and Fabrizio's rise to the front, Honda had dominated proceedings, with Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari taking turns with the fastest time for almost three quarters of the hour-long session.

Even so, it was the third Ten Kate Honda of Jonathan Rea that would emerge as the team's leading representative at the end of the session in third position, half a second behind Spies, while Kiyonari and Checa would slip to fifth and seventh respectively as the circuit condition improved considerably in the latter stages.

Surprise of the session was undoubtedly Gregorio Lavilla, who placed his Guandalini Ducati in fourth position, the Spaniard capitalising on the fact he has tested the 1098R at Misano prior to replacing the injured Brendan Roberts. It placed him ahead of championship leader Noriyuki Haga in sixth position, although a technical problem interrupted his session.

A strong effort in the closing stages helped Leon Haslam up to an encouraging eighth fastest, while Aprilia pair Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano rounded out the top ten positions.

Elsewhere, Troy Corser and Fonsi Nieto led their respective BMW and Suzuki teams in 11th and 12th, although Miller standouts Kawasaki endured a slow start to their weekend with Broc Parkes in 18th and 'super-sub' Jamie Hacking 22nd.

With the grid swelling to 29 for this weekend, newcomer Matthieu Lagrive was a solid 20th on the Althea Honda, while Celani Suzuki returnee Alessandro Polita was 24th.


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