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Tom Sykes has claimed his assumed position at the top of the timesheet around Donington Park as he looks to extend his six race winning streak at his home event.
The Kawasaki rider notched up the fastest time after the opening blasts and despite Chaz Davies briefly displacing him at the midpoint the Yorkshire rider reasserted himself with a 1m 28.554s to take a two-tenth advantage over nearest rival Davide Giugliano at the chequered flag in FP1.
Defending World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea nipped ahead of Davies for third late on to stay within touching distance of his Kawasaki team-mate, while Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes completed the top five despite his left collarbone being recently operated on after his crash in Sepang.
Leon Camier continued to impress on the MV Agusta with sixth in the opening practice session ahead of the returning Roman Ramos for Go Eleven Kawasaki with Sepang race two winner Nicky Hayden in eighth as Lorenzo Savadori and Xavi Fores rounding out the top ten.
In a bright and warm start to Friday free practice the World Superbike grid quickly got up to speed at the track which hosted the first-ever race with the series in its current guise. Six-time race winner Sykes led from the front in the opening stages by being the first into the 1m 28s on the opening runs.
Davies, looking to rediscover his rhythm from Imola, produced an impressive stint during the middle third of the session in which he rose to the top of the timesheet with a 1m 28.987s. On a similar longer stint Rea closed the gap to the top two to less than one-tenth and duly put a thick size of almost a second between the top three and Lowes in fourth.
The Pata Yamaha rider, managing the pain from his recent surgery to fix a broken left collarbone, demonstrated the injury had not robbed him of his pace by consistently battling inside the top six.
With Rea and Davies closing in Sykes responded with a 1m 28.554s while Giugliano jumped to second, two-tenths behind the Huddersfield rider.
The opening practice session was briefly red flagged with less than 15 minutes remaining after Team ASPI's Matthieu Lussiana grabbed too much inside curb at the Old Hairpin and low-side down the hill. His BMW S1000RR took a beating as it barrel rolled down the slope and came to a rest on the inside of Starkeys Bridge.
After marshals safely removed Lussiana's stricken machine from the track the session returned to green.
Despite consistently quick laps the running order changed little in the final 15 minutes to see Sykes claim top spot ahead of Giugliano and Rea.