Aprilia Alitalia's Max Biaggi hit back in first qualifying for the tenth round of the 2011 World Superbike Championship at the Nurburgring as he out-paced both Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri.

The reigning champion, who comes into the weekend eager to make up the 62 point deficit to Checa in the standings, was an early mover as he swiftly dipped below his Spanish rival's best from FP1.

However, Checa would strike at the 20 minute mark, setting a best of 1min 55.673secs that threatened to stand all the way to the chequered flag.

Nonetheless, with Checa choosing against re-emerging for the final stages of the session, Biaggi took advantage to jump ahead with three minutes remaining courtesy of a 1min 55.524secs lap.

With Marco Melandri, the only other rider still considered in with a chance of the 2011 WSBK title, improving to 1min 55.819secs with his final lap, the top three were covered by three tenths of a second.

Behind them, Michel Fabrizio was fourth fastest, despite having to take to his spare bike when he crashed his number one Suzuki in the opening ten minutes of the session. Eugene Laverty was fifth best on a strong start to the weekend for Yamaha, while Sylvain Guintoli was sixth.

Jonathan Rea ended his first day back in WSBK action for three months with a fine seventh best, ahead of the impressive Maxime Berger, who topped factory riders Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam in ninth and tenth.

With just 20 riders competing this weekend, four riders face the chop ahead of Q2 tomorrow morning, with high-profile riders Leon Camier, James Toseland and Troy Corser on the bubble, while Mark Aitchison, Ayrton Badovini, Roberto Rolfo and Makoto Tamada currently occupy the 'drop zone'.