Carlos Checa and Althea Ducati signalled their intentions to get back to winning ways for the latest round of the World Superbike Championship in Germany as they topped first qualifying at the Nurburgring.

In the week it was confirmed that Ducati would be pulling the plug on its factory WSBK participation next season, both Checa and Shane Byrne proved the privateer Althea concern is just as capable of running at the front as they held positions one and two for much of the session.

Indeed, having become the first rider to dip into the 1min 55secs bracket with a 1min 55.939secs, Checa responded to Michel Fabrizio's timesheet topping lap late on by firing in a fine 1min 55.232secs.

It was enough to put him two tenths clear of Troy Corser, who slotted his BMW into second position on home ground with his last effort, while Fabrizio held onto third despite falling earlier in the session. Byrne would slip to fourth, though it remains an encouraging start to the weekend for the under pressure Briton.

Noriyuki Haga made it four Ducatis inside the top five, ahead of practice pace setter and series leader Max Biaggi, the Italian comfortably up on 11th place title rival Leon Haslam.

Cal Crutchlow and Jonathan Rea were seventh and eighth fastest, while Jakub Smrz and the impressive Tom Sykes rounded out the top ten positions.

Elsewhere, Leon Camier made an appearance inside the top ten earlier in the session before falling and missing the final part of the hour, while James Toseland endured a trying day on the Yamaha as he struggled down in 18th position, almost two seconds off the pace.

Ian Lowry completed his first day as a World Superbike rider in a provisional shootout position, ahead of Roger Lee Hayden, Fabrizio Lai and Matteo Baiocco.