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Max Biaggi has made a sensational return to the World Superbike series by topping the first free practice session at Misano.

Making his first appearance in the series since he retired from racing at the close of 2012, Biaggi dominated the session, leading from the opening minutes and eventually finishing 0.47s clear of Chaz Davies in second.

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The Italian underlined his intentions as early as the fourth lap on his return to the series as a 1m 36.4s lap was good enough to comfortably head the rest of the field.

Although Davies upped his pace towards the end of the session Biaggi's late time of 1m 35.684s was good enough to put close to half a second into his pursuers. Indeed such was the Roman's pace, his final time was less than a tenth shy of Tom Sykes' official lap record for the class.

While Biaggi dazzled at home, countryman Davide Giugliano suffered a less enviable fate. The Italian fell on his first lap of the morning, highsiding his Ducati 1199 Panigale. Although he walked away from the incident, Giugliano played no further part in the session.

Making up for his team-mate's absence, Davies narrowly placed above championship leader Jonathan Rea, who was the first of the Kawasaki ZX-10Rs in third.

Had it not been for Biaggi's sensational speed, German wildcard Markus Reiterberger may have grabbed more of the headlines. The VanZon Remeha BMW man ended Friday morning a more than commendable fourth, close to half a second faster than championship regular Ayrton Badovini.

Sylvain Guintoli was another to impress, the reigning world champion beginning the weekend with the fifth fastest time. Team-mate Michael van der Mark wasn't as fortunate as he fell at high speed through the fast-right Curvone corner as the session drew to a close. Thankfully the Dutchman was able to walk away from the incident.

Attempting to put the disappointments of Portim?o behind him, Tom Sykes placed sixth while Jordi Torres ended the session with the seventh fastest time, 0.77s slower than Biaggi.

Fresh from announcing he will compete in this year's Suzuka 8 Hour competition, Alex Lowes headed Leon Haslam in eighth.

Another local rider to wildcard this weekend, Luca Scassa placed 14th in his first appearance in the Aruba.it Ducati Racing outfit, a place behind Niccol? Canepa, who is replacing Nico Terol in the Althea Ducati team.