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Tom Sykes will kick-start the defence of his World Superbike Championship crown in confidence as he set the pace on the second day of official pre-season testing at Phillip Island.

Laying down his gauntlet in the morning session, the Kawasaki's rider's late lap of 1min 30.239secs held firm during a two-hour afternoon session in which no rider inside the top ten was able to better their own time.

It meant Sykes - whose day concluded with a technical issue - would end the test with a comfortable three tenth margin over Suzuki's Eugene Laverty, whose Monday marker would prove good enough for the second fastest time of the test overall. The Irishman was also quickest in the Tuesday PM session as the only rider to break 1min 31secs.

Almost matching his team-mate down to the nearest thousandth, newcomer Alex Lowes proved he belongs on the world stage with an impressive performance on the sister GSX-R1000, ahead of Italian pairing Marco Melandri and Davide Giugliano.

A bruising day that began with a costly crash in the morning, Loris Baz was still able to turn in the sixth best lap overall on the second of the factory Kawasakis, the youngster edging out fellow Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli.

In eighth, Leon Haslam led the way for PATA Honda, though he would miss almost the entirety of Tuesday's afternoon session following a crash early on. Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies rounded out the top ten on the overall timesheets.

With the test billed as the first opportunity to see how the new EVO machines would fare against their full championship-class equivalents, Niccolo Canepa's run to 11th overall on the Althea Ducati was certainly impressive as he put seven tenths between himself and the his nearest rival David Salom.

Supersport stalwart Fabien Foret was the third fastest EVO runner after chipping away at his times over the test, while Sheridan Morais was one of just two riders to improve in the afternoon to go fourth.

Despite not bettering his lap time, Claudio Corti turned in 23 laps on the Yakhnich MV Agusta this afternoon, while Hero EBR also showed evidence of progress as they continue work on the new 1190RX.

With Peter Sebestyen, Sylvain Barrier, Michel Fabrizio and Luca Scassa already missing from the timesheets after suffering injuries in earlier sessions, Jeremy Guarnoni made it a quintet of EVO riders visiting the medical centre after he came down early in the PM session.



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