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Pata Honda's Jonathan Rea emerged on top of the pile in the wet during the opening practice session at Monza in Italy, which hosts the fourth round of the World Superbike Championship this weekend.

The Northern Ireland rider's best lap at the historic circuit in the tricky conditions of 2m 05.912s put him ahead of Ayrton Badovini on the Alstare Ducati by 0.254s.

Rea, who completed eight laps during the 45-minute session, was experimenting with a new fuel tank on his CBR1000RR aimed at improving the aerodynamics of the Fireblade on the fast Monza straights.

His team-mate, Kosuke Akiyoshi, was fourth fastest on his maiden visit to Monza as the Japanese rider replaces the injured Leon Haslam this weekend.

British rider Haslam is recovering from a leg injury but is aiming to return for his home round at Donington Park.

Akiyoshi was 0.686s down on Rea's best lap and 0.251s behind Kawasaki's Tom Sykes in third place, who lapped in 2m 06.347s on his ZX-10R after only completing four laps.

Jules Cluzel was fifth quickest on the Fixi Crescent Suzuki ahead of the first of the factory Aprilia RSV4 machines, ridden by Eugene Laverty in sixth - 1.230s down on the top time.

Loris Baz (Kawasaki), Chaz Davies (GoldBet BMW), Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) and Marco Melandri (GoldBet BMW) were the top ten.