Roberto Rolfo led the way in first free practice for the latest round of the World Superbike Championship at Magny-Cours, although the wet weather ensured many stayed in the comfort of their pit garage.

With rainy conditions affecting the practice sessions for the third straight round, a few riders, including Troy Bayliss, Troy Corser, Carlos Checa and Michel Fabrizio didn't venture onto the circuit to set a lap time.

Even the ones that did kept their running to a minimum, ensuring that the eventual order would throw up a few surprise names.

None were more surprising than Rolfo topping the timesheets on the Althea Honda, the Italian comfortably faster than second place Regis Laconi, who popped up to second in the last minute with his one and only effort.

Fonsi Nieto was another to jump up the order at the chequered flag, ahead of countryman Ruben Xaus, while Martin Bauer made a fine debut for Ten Kate Honda in fifth place, even if the Austrian was helped by doing lap-after-lap as he adapts to the new machine.

Wet weather specialist Chris Walker was up there in sixth, ahead of last year's double winner Noriyuki Haga and team-mate Gregorio Lavilla. Max Biaggi was ninth, while Christian Zaiser was a strong tenth on the Grillini Yamaha.

First qualifying gets underway later today.



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