Jonathan Rea has picked up where he left off at Portimao by topping the opening free practice session at Mangy-Cours thanks to a rapid late run to beat Leon Camier’s provisional timesheet topper.

The Kawasaki Racing Team rider needs to outscore team-mate Tom Sykes, who is returning from injury in France, by just five points in order to wrap up a historic third consecutive World Superbike title in race one at Magny-Cours and looks on course to complete the feat by going fastest in FP1.

MV Agusta’s Camier looked like producing a small surprise in the first session thanks to his 1m 38.032s but in the closing minutes Rea notched up back-to-back fastest laps to set the standard with a 1m 37.849s to go clear of his World Superbike rivals.

Sykes completed 18 laps on his return from surgery on a fracture finger and radius to take 10th in FP1, just over a second off of Rea, to show early signs of recovery having undergone an operation less than two weeks ago.

Lorenzo Savadori impressed for Milwaukee Aprilia by going third fastest ahead of Aruba.it Racing Ducati duo Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies with the Pata Yamaha pair of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark following in sixth place and seventh place respectively.

Xavi Fores placed his Barni Ducati eight ahead of Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres and Sykes while further down the order Eugene Laverty could only manage 14th for Milwaukee Aprilia after tipping off early in FP1.

Red Bull Honda duo Davide Giugliano (16th) and Jake Gagne (21st) enjoyed solid starts to the Magny-Cours race weekend in what is expected to be another challenging race weekend for the factory Honda squad fielding two replacement riders.

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