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Suzuki's Eugene Laverty has sent out an early signal of intention to his World Superbike rivals as he commanded an impressive pace on the first morning of official pre-season testing at Phillip Island.
The 2013 WSBK runner-up, who switched from Aprilia to Voltcom Crescent Suzuki over the winter, spent the two hour session – the first of four over the coming days – dicing with Kawasaki's Loris Baz for the top spot honour.
Indeed, Baz was the rider to beat for much of the session, quickly responding each time Laverty managed to squeeze in front of him. However, with just ten minutes remaining, Laverty's lap of 1min 30.513secs would prove decisive as Baz took a tumble attempting to wrest back the advantage.
An impressive showing for Laverty, his time puts him just three tenths adrift of Carlos Checa's lap record already at this early stage in the week.
Behind Baz, his team-mate and reigning champion Tom Sykes was third quickest, three tenths behind Laverty, with fourth place Davide Giugliano putting on a solid show aboard the Ducati as the only other rider to breach 1min 31secs.
New Aprilia rider Marco Melandri was the busiest ride, completing 38 laps en route to fifth place, ahead of team-mate Sylvain Guintoli, with Chaz Davies seventh and Alex Lowes eighth, the rookie shrugging off a crash to prove just a second slower than his pace setting team-mate around a circuit he has never ridden before.
Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea rounded out the top ten for PATA Honda, with Althea Ducati's Niccolo Canepa leading the way for the new EVO contingent, ahead of KRT's David Salom in 12th, Sylvain Barrier in 14th and Luca Scassa in 15th.
Of the new manufacturers, MV Agusta's Claudio Corti lost time early on but recovered to 13th fastest, 2.5secs off the leading pace, while Erik Buell Racing's WSBK endeavour began somewhat more modestly with Geoff May and Aaron Yates 7.6secs and 9.1secs off the pace respectively aboard the 1190RX.
Testing continues with a PM session, which gets underway at 04.30GMT.