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Marco Melandri has drawn first blood in his fight with World Superbike Championship leader Max Biaggi at the Moscow Raceway as he dominated first free practice.

Coming into the weekend looking to overhaul the 10.5 point deficit to Biaggi at the top of the overall standings, Melandri fired the opening salvo by barely being headed throughout FP1.

Indeed, having stated after this week's free test around the all-new Russian circuit that his BMW was 'losing time in the corners', Melandri appeared to have honed his set-up as he worked his best lap down to a 1min 35.799secs.

Putting him a clear five tenths up on the opposition, Melandri's time was just under Carlos Checa's fastest lap from testing, as well as eight tenths better than he managed earlier in the week.

Melandri's closest challenger was Chaz Davies, the British rider showing competitively throughout the session on the ParkinGO MTC Aprilia, unlike his factory counterparts Eugene Laverty and Biaggi, who could only manage 15th and 17th best respectively. Even so, with just one second covering Davies to Biaggi, there remains little to choose between the chasing pack.

Despite the absence of Effenbert Liberty this weekend, the dwindled Ducati contingent still showed well in FP1 with Davide Giugliano, Sylvain Guintoli, Carlos Checa and Niccolo Canepa lapping in third, fourth, sixth and seventh respectively, the run of 1098Rs broken only by Hiroshi Aoyama in fifth, the Honda rider - who is yet to reach Superpole this season - showing impressively at this stage of the weekend.

Having out-paced Melandri in testing, team-mate Leon Haslam had to contend with eighth fastest this time, ahead of Jonathan Rea and Ayrton Badovini.

Outside the top ten, Kawasaki suffered an indifferent start to their weekend as Tom Sykes finished down in 11th, while Loris Baz completed just two laps after he and Leon Camier collided in the opening minutes. Forcing a red flag, neither rider would make it back onto track before the end of the session, leaving them towards the bottom of the timesheets.