Lorenzo Savadori has topped the combined free practice timesheet at Phillip Island for Milwaukee Aprilia ahead of the 2018 World Superbike season opener held in challenging conditions.

With early morning rain curtailing any serious quick runs in the opening practice session, which was topped by Marco Melandri, dry and sunny conditions provided the grid with the best opportunity for outright quick laps in preparation for the two season-opening races in Australia this weekend.

The second session saw Savadori go fastest with a best lap of 1m 30.407s to edge out Red Bull Honda’s Leon Camier by over three-tenths of a second. Savadori’s factory Aprilia teammate Eugene Laverty held third place with Tom Sykes narrowly edging Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea to complete the top five on the combined times.

Rea ended the third practice session on top, with 2018 marking a schedule shake-up in WorldSBK, which enabled him to climb a couple of places in the combined times to assure him of an automatic place in Superpole 2.

FP1 timesheet-topper Melandri held on to sixth place on the overall times for Aruba.it Racing Ducati, despite lapping slower than he had at the pre-season test at Phillip Island earlier this week, with Pata Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark in seventh while his teammate Alex Lowes scrapped into Superpole 2 after missing the majority of FP2 after a crash on his opening flying lap.

The 2013 British Superbike champion’s FP3 effort was enough to hand him 10th on the combined times just behind Barni Ducati’s Xavi Fores in eighth and Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Chaz Davies in ninth.

As a result, Red Bull Honda’s Jake Gagne was the unlucky 11th-placed rider on the combined times to miss out on an automatic spot into Superpole 2 ahead of rookie Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu and MV Agusta’s Jordi Torres.

Loris Baz was another rider to suffer a nasty fall during Friday practice but the Althea BMW rider, making his World Superbike comeback after three years in MotoGP, was declared fit to continue by the medical staff having ended the day 16th overall.