Michel Fabrizio kicked off two days of World Superbike testing at Imola by setting a strong pace at the end of the opening day around the Italian circuit

Signalling the first time the circuit has played host to any Superbike action since 2006, Fabrizio began the day with the second quickest time in the morning session, but was in charge during the considerably quicker afternoon encounter when he snatched the fastest time in the closing stages.

An important boost for the Ducati Xerox team given the absence of team-mate Noriyuki Haga, Fabrizio edged out title challenger Ben Spies to the honour of the quickest lap by just under a tenth of a second.

Between them, they were four tenths faster than Jonathan Rea, who resumed his status as Ten Kate Honda's leading representative in third position after team-mate and morning pace setter Carlos Checa could only manage fifth on this occasion.

The surprise of the session, however, was fourth place Ruben Xaus, who sliced almost three seconds off his fastest time to catapult his BMW from outside the top ten to get amongst the front runners.

Britons Shane Byrne, Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam continued their strong form from Donington Park to go sixth, seventh and eighth quickest, while Lorenzo Lanzi and Yukio Kagayama rounded out the top ten.