Carlos Checa kicked off his home World Superbike Championship round in style with a fine run to the top spot during opening free practice at the Valencia Ricardo Tormo circuit.

The Spaniard, a race winner already this season, is tipped to go well on familiar ground aboard the Althea Ducati this weekend, Checa proving his point by quickly establishing himself with the fastest time at just over the 20-minute mark.

Producing a lap of 1min 35.154secs, it was a time good enough to keep him atop the timesheets until the chequered flag, despite the best efforts of Michel Fabrizio during the latter stages.

Indeed, Checa held a six tenth advantage over the competition for much of the session before Fabrizio, who suffered a tumble within the first 15 minutes, got the margin down to just a tenth.

Save for Checa and Fabrizio - who in turn was three tenths faster than Yamaha's James Toseland -, the session was a relatively close run thing with third down to 18th covered by less than a second.

Additionally, all seven manufacturers posted top ten entrants, with Troy Corser looking impressive on the BMW in fourth, ahead of Aprilia's Portimao winner Max Biaggi and Suzuki's championship leader Leon Haslam.

Jonathan Rea fulfilled the Honda brief in seventh, ahead of last year's double Valencia winner Noriyuki Haga and Leon Camier, the Briton doing a good job to go ninth quickest on a circuit he has never previously raced on. Kawasaki's Tom Sykes was tenth fastest to complete top ten manufacturer set.

Elsewhere, Max Neukirchner was 11th, just three tenths down on Ten Kate Honda team-mate Rea, while Cal Crutchlow, Jakub Smrz, Sylvain Guintoli and Shane Byrne all followed just two tenths adrift from 12th down to 15th.

Simon Andrews, substituting for Chris Vermeulen at Kawasaki SRT this weekend, enjoyed a solid start to his first World Superbike weekend with a factory team, the regular BSB rider proving 17th fastest, less than three tenths off the top ten and ahead of Ruben Xaus - the only other Spaniard in the field.