Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea topped the early times at Magny-Cours as the French WorldSBK weekend fired up with a drying FP1.
BMW’s Michael van der Mark headed his former-teammate Alex Lowes in the top-three, with times three-seconds adrift of the circuit record.
Opening practice in France was a bit of a damp squib after overnight rain left the WorldSBK class sat in the box waiting for the damp conditions to improve.
The first on track action came in the form of Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista’s Hondas with initial 1’54.365 times immediately bettered as the Spaniard navigated the 4.4km layout.
Only four riders had ventured out by the halfway stage, Andrea Locatelli heading out with less than 20-minutes to go but circulating four-seconds off Bautista’s pace.
Blue skies and 20℃ air temperatures allowed the Aruba Ducati’s to hit the track in the final quarter of an hour, joint championship leader Toprak Razgatlioglu joining the fun as the asphalt finally allowed slick tyres.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi took charge with just over 10-minutes remaining, his teammate Scott Redding heading the standings with a 1’42.114 as the session finally looked to fire up and the rest of the pack left pitlane.
The title fighters sat top-three with six-minutes to go, van der Mark demoting his next-season teammate, Redding with a 1’40.271, as a number of riders looked to challenge in the improving conditions.
Razgatlioglu became the first to break the 1’40 barrier, Redding, van der Mark and Chaz Davies joining him in the 1’39’s with the top-nine covered by eight-tenths and two minutes left to run.
The final flying laps saw the Dutchman set a 1’38.867, the Yamaha matching him exactly before the Kawasaki pair arrived - Rea leading Lowes for a one-two with a 1’38.402. A late charge from the BMW man spoiled the green machines’ party to sit second, with Razgatlioglu and Redding completing the top-five.