Jonathan Rea has topped the opening free practice session in Qatar from Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes who is preparing to battle Chaz Davies for the runner-up spot in the championship finale.

The triple World Superbike champion continued his dominantion in 2017 by holding top spot for the majority of the first session before stretching his single lap advantage to 0.689s over Sykes.

Sykes, who needs to outscore Davies to secure a Kawasaki 1-2 in the championship standings, ended the session second fastest despite a late improvement by his Aruba.it Racing Ducati rival who jumped to third but two-tenths off.

Alex Lowes led the Pata Yamaha charge in fourth ahead of Michael van der Mark, fresh from his MotoGP debut as stand-in for Jonas Folger at Tech 3 Yamaha in Malaysia, who were followed by the Milwaukee Aprilia duo of Eugene Laverty in sixth and Lorenzo Savadori in seventh respectively.

Marco Melandri had a slower start to the race weekend in ninth for the factory Ducati squad as Althea BMW’s Jordi Torres rounded out the top ten ahead of Sylvain Guintoli on the Puccetti Kawasaki.

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