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Carlos Checa has begun his Silverstone campaign in confident fashion by topping first free practice at Silverstone, the Spaniard setting his quick time before rain arrived to wash out much of the session.

A double winner at Silverstone on the Althea Ducati in 2011, Checa set his time of 2mins 06.384secs just five minutes before the heavens opened and prevented any other rider from getting close to it.

With only 15mins of clear running taking place, Tom Sykes was second fastest aboard the Kawasaki, ahead of Jakub Smrz and his former team-mate Sylvain Guintoli, who took no time acclimatising to his new surroundings at PATA Ducati by claiming an impressive fourth best time.

Marco Melandri headed up the BMW charge in fifth position, with Brno podium winner Loris Baz dividing him from S1000RR compatriot Michel Fabrizio in sixth and seventh.

Leon Camier enjoyed a positive start on the Suzuki in eighth position, heading off Leon Haslam and championship leader Max Biaggi on the leading Aprilia.

Of the remaining local riders, Chaz Davies was 11th quickest, Jonathan Rea 12th and Eugene Laverty 13th, while returnees David Johnson - riding the Pedercini Kawasaki this weekend - and Brett McCormick were 21st and 24th respectively.

Davide Giugliano was the only rider to fall in the session, at turn 14, his one and only lap good enough for 20th position.