Leon Haslam took the honour of topping the very first official World Superbike timesheet of the 2010 season as he dominated proceedings in opening free practice at Phillip Island.

Haslam, who will make his race debut for the Suzuki Alstare team this weekend, was barely troubled during the hour-long session, establishing himself as the early front runner after 20 minutes with a lap time of 1min 32.791secs.

As the only rider to break the 1min 33secs mark, that alone would have comfortably seen Haslam stay in charge for the session's entirety, but a further improvement to 1min 32.468secs with ten minutes to go would see him assume an advantage of more than half a second over his nearest rival.

Aprilia's Max Biaggi provided his closest challenge, albeit 0.540secs adrift in second position, although the Italian still has reason to be pleased after posting the fastest-ever recorded Superbike speed of 319.8kph on the way to second position.

Despite being hampered by technical issues on his Althea Ducati, Shane Byrne recovered to set the third fastest time, marginally ahead of team-mate Carlos Checa in fifth place as the privateer team out paced the factory Xerox operation.

Jonathan Rea squeezed between the two on his Ten Kate Honda, while Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland suggested Yamaha has gone a long way to curing its well-publicised chatter woes by going a much improved sixth and eighth respectively.

Pre-season favourite Noriyuki Haga was a fairly quiet seventh on the Ducati Xerox, while Jakub Smrz and Sylvain Guintoli kicked off their 2010 campaigns inside the top ten in ninth and tenth.

With exception to Haslam's margin over the competition, things remain remarkably close throughout the field with exactly a second covering Biaggi in second to Troy Corser in 17th.

It meant a fall for Michel Fabrizio delayed him enough to leave him just 11th, marginally ahead of Lorenzo Lanzi and top BMW representative Ruben Xaus. The Spaniard's 13th place was achieved despite two falls in the space of ten minutes, Xaus completing just six laps as he sat out the majority of the session.

Elsewhere, Chris Vermeulen and Tom Sykes put Leon Camier in a Kawasaki sandwich in 14th, 16th and 15th respectively, while Max Neukirchner was a lowly 18th after suffering a tumble himself.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment