Shane Byrne picked up exactly where he left off as official World Superbike testing got underway at a wet and rainy Portimao circuit.

Having topped the timesheets around the Portuguese circuit during post-season testing two months ago, the arrival of rain failed to dampen his intentions as he proved the only rider to dip below the 2mins mark.

Lapping just under a second quicker than his closest competition, the reigning BSB champion led a British 1-2 following the morning session with rival and fellow WSBK 'rookie' Jonathan Rea landing just behind.

Despite the conditions, the top ten positions were hotly contested, with just over two seconds covering third down to 12th position. At the head of this train was Michel Fabrizio, the Kyalami pace setter getting the edge on team-mate Nortiyuki Haga, who was just behind in seventh.

Max Neukirchner hauled his 2009-specification Suzuki up into fourth position, albeit more than two seconds behind Byrne, while Guandalini Ducati joined Sterilgarda in flying the flag for the privateer entries in fifth and sixth, Jakub Smrz leading Brendan Roberts.

Making his full debut for Althea Honda and experiencing the Portimao circuit for the first time, Tommy Hill was an impressive eighth, ahead of the factory entries form Carlos Checa and Yukio Kagayama.

In all, 23 riders ventured out onto circuit as times varied depending on the strength of the rain and the laps they completed. Those who didn't complete a time included Ben Spies, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Leon Haslam.

Elsewhere, Troy Corser was 12th quickest in the best of the BMW entries, while Tom Sykes returned to action with Yamaha in 13th. Kawasaki's leading representative in 14th, meanwhile, was Luca Scassa on the independently run Pedercini machine - factory rider Broc Parkes was 16th quickest.

Aprilia kept their running to a minimum, Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano going 19th and 23rd respectively, considerably off the ultimate pace.



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