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Davide Giugliano has opened up the ninth World Superbike Championship round at Brno as the unexpected pace setter as he topped first free practice around the Czech circuit.

The Italian rider, who has taken two podiums in his debut WSBK season thus far, languished at the bottom end of the top ten for much of the FP1 session, but surged to the front in the final minutes with a best lap of 2mins 00.359secs.

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An impressive effort by the Althea Ducati competitor, Giugliano was a comfortable two tenths faster than Jakub Smrz, who helped deflect some of the controversy surrounding his Effenbert Liberty Ducati team this weekend by posting the second best time on his home soil.

Eugene Laverty was another late improver to just edge out his Aprilia team-mate Max Biaggi in third and fourth, while long time pace setter Tom Sykes was bumped down to an eventual fifth place on the Kawasaki.

Marco Melandri headed up the BMW charge in sixth position, ahead of reigning champion Carlos Checa, while Loris Baz completed an encouraging session for Kawasaki in eighth position.

Ayrton Badovini and Michel Fabrizio rounded out the top ten on their GoldBet-backed BMW Italia machines, ahead of top Suzuki rider Leon Camier in 11th position.

Elsewhere, Motorland Aragon standout Chaz Davies was 12th fastest, ahead of 13th place Leon Haslam, while Jonathan Rea was down in 17th position and behind his Honda team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama after suffering a fall at turn three.