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Jonathan Rea has ended the opening day of World Superbike Championship action at Portimao with the fastest time after coming out top of a close first qualifying session.

Five years after making his WSBK debut at the Portuguese circuit, Rea jumped to the top of the leaderboard in the closing stages of the session to deny long-time front runner Eugene Laverty with a lap of 1min 43.551secs.

That would prove a tenth faster than Aprilia Racing's Laverty, who had nearly occupied the top spot for the entire session before being demoted to second.

Practice pace setter Tom Sykes ends the day in third place, ahead of Aprilia riders Sylvain Guintoli and David Giugliano, while BMW's Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies complete their respective Fridays in sixth and seventh.

Making the biggest gains of anyone between the sessions, Carlos Checa was eighth quickest on the Alstare Ducati, seven tenths off the leaders, ahead of Suzuki's Leon Camier and Kawasaki's Loris Baz.

Outside the top ten, Jules Cluzel suffered a fall to leave him 12th overall, while Leon Haslam is provisionally through to Superpole with the 13th quickest lap. He is joined on the cusp of the danger zone by Max Neukirchner and Alexander Lundh in 14th and 15th.

Elsewhere, there was frustration for Red Devils Roma Aprilia's Michel Fabrizio who, having been second quickest in morning practice, failed to set a time in Q1 after suffering with mechanical issues.


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