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Sylvain Guintoli has opened up fastest following the first free practice session for the Stateside round of the 2014 World Superbike Championship at Laguna Seca.

The Frenchman, who is the closest challenger to runaway leader Tom Sykes in the overall WSBK standings, moved quickest within the final few minutes, his effort of 1min 23.861secs proving the only lap to go beneath 1min 24secs.

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Guintoli - a pole sitter with Aprilia at the Californian venue last season - was two tenths up on WSBK leader Sykes on the Kawasaki, with Marco Melandri completing the top three of the second of the factory RSV4s.

Despite a late start to the session, Chaz Davies was a front runner throughout FP1 en route to fourth best, ahead of PATA Honda pair Jonathan Rea - sampling Laguna Seca for the first time - and Leon Haslam, while Toni Elias was seventh quickest on the privateer Red Devils Roma Aprilia.

Eugene Laverty headed up Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team-mate Alex Lowes in eighth position, while Davide Giugliano rounded out the top ten despite a large engine blow on his Ducati, with another Laguna Seca newcomer Loris Baz just outside in 11th.

One of the few EVO riders to have competed at Laguna Seca last season, Althea Ducati rider Niccolo Canepa headed up the category in 12th overall, ahead of an impressive Bryan Staring on the Grillini Kawasaki, overall class leader David Salom and Alstare Bimota's Christian Iddon.

Still chasing its first points of the 2014 season, local hope Erik Buell Racing are hoping to make the most of home advantage to get on the scoreboard this weekend, with Geoff May and Aaron Yates starting positively with the manufacturer's most competitive showing of the season thus far, the pair 16th and 20th best.

Further back, Leon Camier was rooted towards the bottom of the timesheets as he gets to grips with the MV Agusta F4 for the first time. The British rider completed 15 laps but was five seconds off the overall pace in 26th.

Indeed, Friday performances will have a greater impact on the weekend than normal following the decision to schedule all three practice sessions today. This means FP1, FP2 and - importantly - FP3 will take place to determine whom goes through to Superpole tomorrow and with rain in the air, early laps could prove pivotal.