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Guandalini Ducati's Jakub Smrz has set the quickest time in the opening World Superbike free practice session at Portimao this afternoon, fending off Marlboro Ducati's Noriyuki Haga.

Smrz hit the top of the timesheets with five minutes to go, pinching the lead from Haga with Stiggy Honda's Leon Haslam in third. But a fast lap from Kawasaki's Broc Parkes demoted the Briton to fourth and then Alstare Suzuki's Yukio Kagayama parked himself in third, leaving Haslam to finish fifth.

Sterilgarda Ducati's Shane Byrne set the early pace with a 1'47.232, followed by Carlos Checa on the Ten Kate Honda and BMW's Troy Corser in third. It wasn't long before Haga hit the top with a 1'46.804 and championship rival Ben Spies in close attendance.


Checa then re-asserted himself in second on a 1'46.827 before Haga lowered the bar again, dipping under the 1'46 mark with a 1'45.791. Haslam started a march up the order with ten minutes gone, putting himself in fourth.

Spies put the Sterilgarda Yamaha at the top with 47 minutes to go, lapping in 1'45.400 as Aprilia's Leon Camier hauled himself up to 12th with a lap that was only 1.8s off Spies' pace.

With 35 minutes to go, Byrne went third quickest with a 1'46.161 and then one place better a lap later with a 1'45.475 but Spies was on a march, going quicker again on the half hour with a 1'45.118.

Haga once again hit the top with 15 minute to go, lapping in 1'44.934 while Camier got inside the top ten. Smrz began a run of laps which saw him go second quickest on a 1'45.080 as Haslam and Xerox Ducati's Michel Fabrizio scrapped it out for fourth.

Smrz's final lap of 1'44.855 was enough to settle the dispute and the quick laps from Parkes and Kagayama were good enough for third and fourth, with Haga taking second and Spies dropping to seventh.

Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea ended his session in ninth, Byrne was two places further back and Tom Sykes and Camier in 16th and 17th. Crucially, Camier is 1.3s off the pace but only a couple of tenths slower than team-mate Max Biaggi. Sylvain Guintoli, who is making his Alstare Suzuki debut, was 22nd and 2.3s in arrears.

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