A late flying lap by Italian Marco Melandri saw him set the fastest time in the opening practice session for round one of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island.
On a drying track after early morning drizzle, Melandri, the 2006 MotoGP winner at the seaside circuit, took his factory Ducati to a best lap of 1m42.974s, completing the 40-minutre session ahead of world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki, 1:43.090) and Eugene Laverty (Aprilia, 1:43.384).
Rea, a double winner at Phillip Island over the last two seasons, was on the pace from the get-go and sat on top of the leaderboard for most of the session before Melandri’s last burst.
Impressive Spaniard Xavi Fores (1:43.-455) was fourth on his Ducati, just ahead of Alex Lowes (Yamaha, 1:43.472) and American WorldSBK debutante Patrick Jacobsen (Honda, 1:43.766).
Leon Camier (Honda, 1:43.792) and world No. 2 Chaz Davies (Ducati, 1:43.805), while Wayne Maxwell (Yamaha, 1:46.3512) was the leading Australian in 17th.
Twenty riders took to the track, while Aussie wildcard Troy Herfoss (Honda) elected to remain in his pit garage.
There will be two more practice sessions today at 12:25pm and 3:35pm.
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