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Loris Baz has topped first free practice for the fifth round of the 2014 World Superbike Championship at Donington Park, ahead of Alex Lowes and Tom Sykes.

The Frenchman surged to the front in the final minutes as the lap times started to tumble, the Frenchman usurping Lowes and Sykes, whom had been swapping the top spot for much of the session up to that point.

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A strong start for Baz on a day when FP1, FP2 and - for the first time - FP3 will take place, the Kawasaki rider - who made his WSBK debut here in 2012 - was two tents up on leading British rider Lowes, the youngster making the most of his local knowledge to get straight up to speed on the Suzuki.

Title contenders Sykes and Jonathan Rea finished the session third and fourth respectively, the latter making gains in the latter stages on the PATA Honda, with Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam fifth and sixth.

Behind them, Eugene Laverty headed Marco Melandri in seventh, while Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies endured a modest start for Ducati in ninth and tenth, marginally ahead of 1199 Panigale counterpart and leading EVO rider Niccolo Canepa.

Further back, WSBK debutant Romain Lanusse was 20th fastest on the EVO specification Pedercini Kawasaki, ahead of team-mate Alessandro Andreozzi, while fellow newcomer Bryan Staring was 24th best on the IRON BRAIN Grillini Kawasaki.