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Chaz Davies had the honour of topping the first World Superbike Championship session to be held at Laguna Seca in nine years as he edged BMW team-mate Marco Melandri and local wild-cards Roger Lee Hayden and Danny Eslick in FP1.

A rider with a strong pedigree around the Californian circuit having raced there during his stint in the domestic AMA series, Davies made repeated visits to the top of the timesheets over the course of the session, only to be bumped down again by Melandri and then Roger Lee Hayden.

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Indeed, Hayden, along with team-mate Danny Eslick were on fine form as they quickly got themselves up to speed on familiar territory, the pair taking their respective Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzukis to the head of the timesheets.

However, while Hayden led the way with less than four minutes remaining, a swift lap from Davies would see the Welshman emerge quickest overall, while title contender Melandri slotted into the second place after just missing out on his final effort.

The impressive Hayden and Eslick would end the session in third and fourth, though things remain close around the relatively short circuit with just a second covering the top 12 at this early stage.

Rounding out the top five was Eugene Laverty on the leading Aprilia, with recent newcomer to the series Toni Elias showing his swift pace in Istanbul was no fluke in sixth.

A solid opening for the title rivals, Sylvain Guintoli and Tom Sykes ended the session seventh and eighth best, with Davide Giugliano and Niccolo Canepa - standing in for the injured Carlos Checa - completing the top ten.

Elsewhere, with the local Suzuki riders up at the front, regular GSX-R1000 contenders Fixi Crescent Suzuki were 12th and 19th best with Jules Cluzel and stand-in Blake Young, while Honda endured a difficult opening with Leon Haslam 13th and Michel Fabrizio 14th.

Of the other unfamiliar faces this weekend, David Salom on the second of the factory Kawasakis was 15th fastest, with Australian wild-card Glen Allerton in 18th out of 20.