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Tom Sykes has begun his quest to get back on race-winning form in the World Superbike Championship in fine fettle as he topped first free practice at the Nurburgring.

Returning from the summer break keen to overcome the disappointing results on home soil at Silverstone, Sykes was never far from the top of the timesheets during the 45min FP1 session.

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Indeed, though team-mate Loris Baz and Chaz Davies would both enjoy spells at the head of the order during the session, Sykes would keep bouncing back to end the morning encounter with a 1min 55.904secs.

It was enough to rebuff a late challenge by Michel Fabrizio on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia by a mere three hundredths of a second, with Baz and Davies slipping three tenths adrift by the time the chequered flag had been thrown.

With five of the six manufacturers inside the top seven, Jonathan Rea headed up the Honda charge in fifth position, ahead of Marco Melandri in sixth and Suzuki's Leon Camier in seventh position.

Now almost fully recovered from his collarbone injury, series leader Sylvain Guintoli was a solid eighth best, ahead of Aprilia counterpart Davide Giugliano, while Silverstone standout Jules Cluzel rounded out the top ten.

Further back, Eugene Laverty was a latecomer to the session as he settled in 14th position having completed just eight laps, while wild-card riders Matej Smrz - who will pilot the first Yamaha in WSBK since 2010 - and Markus Reiterberger were 17th and 18th respectively on their debuts.