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World Superbike title chaser Sylvain Guintoli has started his Magny-Cours weekend with a slight advantage over Tom Sykes after out-pacing his main rival in FP1.
The local rider waited until the final minute to produce his front-running time of 1min 38.366secs, the Aprilia rider putting himself three tenths up on Sykes, who had otherwise led the way from the opening ten minutes of the sunny and warm session.
In turn, Sykes also held a comfortable advantage over his closest competitor with Marco Melandri three tenths adrift in third position, while Leon Haslam got his weekend off to a positive start in fourth place.
Fresh from the announcement that he will ride an Aspar Honda in MotoGP next season, Eugene Laverty was fifth best on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, ahead of Davide Giugliano, Alex Lowes, Jonathan Rea and Toni Elias.
Outside the top ten, Max Neukirchner was the fastest of the three wild-card Ducati 3C entries in 12th, while EVO champion elect David Salom headed up the sub-category in 14th overall from Niccolo Canepa and Sheridan Morais.