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Fresh from his win with Kawasaki in Australia, Jonathan Rea has kicked off the second round of the World Superbike Championship as he means to go on by topping first free practice at the Chang International Circuit by seven tenths of a second.

The first time World Superbikes have sampled the Thai venue, the specially extended session would see Rea move front after 40mins with a 1min 35.920secs lap, the Ulsterman proceeding to better his effort twice more to stop the clock in a best time of 1min 35.004secs.

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Indeed, with Rea commanding a substantial seven tenths advantage over team-mate Tom Sykes, only the two Kawasaki riders were able to crack 1min 36secs, with all but the Englishman a second adrift or more adrift of the pace setter.

Jordi Torres was third fastest - the Spaniard breaking the 300km/h barrier in the process - after a late improvement on the Red Devils Aprilia, ahead of Chaz Davies on the Ducati, who suffered a tumble, and Alex Lowes on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.

Behind them, Aprilia's Leon Haslam led his replacement at PATA Honda, Michael van der Mark, in sixth and seventh while David Salom was a noteworthy eighth best in his first session since a high-speed accident in Australia left him with a series of injuries.

Barni Ducati rider Leandro Mercado and reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli rounded out the top ten, edging out Sylvain Barrier, Randy de Puniet, Nico Terol and Troy Bayliss, the former champion proving a respectable 14th fastest on his continuing return to action.