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Michael van der Mark has started his potential title-winning World Supersport Championship weekend in fine style by topping first free practice in Jerez.

With just three rounds of the WSS season remaining now, van der Mark's 53 point advantage over Jules Cluzel means he merely needs to out-score (or remain within two points) of the Frenchman this weekend to seal the title for PATA Honda early.

Fastest in the early stages, van der Mark was briefly unseated by Kenan Sofuoglu later on, but a 1min 44.344secs lap was not only enough to lift him to the top, but do so with a half second advantage.

Despite losing out to his rival, Sofuoglu's second place marks a successful start to his tenure with the San Carlo Puccetti team, the Turk moved by Kawasaki over the summer after his existing MAHI team folded.

Behind him, a late jump would see Kev Coghlan complete the top three on the DMC Panavto Yamaha, ahead of newly-announced Moto2 rider Florian Marino, Lorenzo Zanetti and PJ Jacobsen.

Following his first podium finish last time World Supersport was on track at Portimao, Jack Kennedy opened his weekend in seventh, with Roberto Tamburini, Cluzel and Roberto Rolfo rounding out the top ten.


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