Liberty Ducati's Jakub Smrz has marmalised the World Superbike field in today's opening free practice session at Miller Motosport Park, lapping nearly three seconds faster than even the late-charging Marco Melandri.
The Czech rider set his fastest lap with only seconds to go, banging in a 2'02.138 with Melandri, also on his final circuit, managing a 2'04.832 ahead of the second Liberty 1198 of Sylvain Guintoli who is a couple of tenths down on the Italian.
Rain has been falling most of the day at Miller but it stopped with around 15 minutes of the session left and then the times began to fall. Smrz hit the front with with a 2'07.884 but was swiftly ousted by the Honda of Jonathan Rea who brought the bar down to 2'07.217 and then bettered it with a 2'06.278.
Reigning champion Carlos Checa then went quickest with a 2'06.241 before Smrz put in his final run which couldn't be bettered. Ayrton Badovini came from nowhere to lodge the fourth fastest time as Checa slid down to fifth place while Nico Canepa, who was in second place early on, got in a late one to take sixth.
Checa's team-mate Davide Guigliano bagged seventh place but is four seconds off the pace while Tom Sykes, also well up the field until the rain stopped, ended in eighth with Rea slipping to ninth. Eugene Laverty rounds out the top ten and is 4.1s slower than Smrz.
Leon Haslam put his works S1000RR just behind the satellite BMNW of Michel Fabrizio in 12th, one place ahead of Chaz Davies. Max Biaggi is down in 20th after only doing four laps while Leon Camier did double that but could only find enough pace for 22nd.
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