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Davide Giugliano bounced back from a technical issue in FP2 to end the first day of World Superbike action at Losail quickest of all, while Sylvain Guintoli emerged comfortably quicker than his unusually off-form title rival Tom Sykes.

Classified down in 16th place after FP2 when a technical problem on his Ducati consigned him to the sidelines for much of the session, Giugliano duly made up for lost ground in FP3, climbing to the head of the timesheets in the closing stages with an impressive lap time of 1min 57.876secs, making him the only rider to dip below 1min 58secs so far.

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FP1 pace setter Jonathan Rea came close to joining him in the 1m 57s bracket in second place, just two tenths behind, while Guintoli can take confidence into qualifying on the Aprilia after ending his day third fastest and well ahead of Sykes.

Indeed, though Sykes - who takes a 12 point lead over Guintoli into the final two races - has often focused on race pace during previous Friday practice sessions, at no stage in the day did he look capable of challenging for the top spot as he slipped almost a second from the ultimate pace. Indeed, though Sykes would make it through to SP2 automatically with the eighth quickest time, even then he could only secure his safe passage by three tenths of a second.

By contrast, his Kawasaki team-mate Loris Baz was fourth quickest despite it being his first visit to the Losail International Circuit, with Suzuki pairing Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes fifth and sixth respectively, ahead of Chaz Davies.

Leon Haslam and Toni Elias rounded out the ten riders that would secure themselves a spot inside SP2, leaving out Marco Melandri, the Italian - and winner in three of the last four races - struggling all day around the Qatari circuit to finish FP3 in 11th. He will be forced to participate in SP1 come Superpole.

In the EVO reckoning, Niccolo Canepa was again quickest in 12th for Althea Ducati, ahead of Sylvain Barrier, Sheridan Morais and champion-elect David Salom.

Elsewhere, the final Superpole of the 2014 season will at least see a little bit of history made after Geoff May cracked the top twenty in 20th position. His inclusion means Team Hero EBR will contest Superpole for the first time at the end of its maiden WSBK season.

By contrast, MV Agusta's Claudio Corti - who was hampered by technical issues -, May's team-mate Aaron Yates and the Team Toth BMWs of Gabor Rizmayer and Imre Toth are confirmed to start 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th.