The British rider will head into tomorrow's FP3 with a gap of 0.359s over Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) as the top nine riders were separated by a second.
Third place in the overall classification after the opening day was Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) one of many who were unable to improve this afternoon in the much hotter conditions. In fact only three of the top 12 riders were able to better their FP1 times.
Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) finished fourth ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) and the second of the WorldSBK rookies Nico Terol (Althea Racing Ducati) who was sixth.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) continues to find his feet after moving up from World Supersport, the reigning WSS Champion jumped up to seventh.
Niccolò Canepa (Team Hero EBR) missed FP1 due to a technical problem, the Italian managed a couple of competitive laps before falling at Turn 10. He will head into tomorrow in 20th overall.
Sylvain Barrier fell at Turn 11 at the half way point of FP3, the Frenchman still fast enough to claim 13th. Gabor Rizmayer (BMW Team Toth) was the unluckiest faller of the afternoon session as he sustained a left-wrist fracture and dislocation after crashing at Turn 11. The Hungarian rider will undergo surgery tonight at the Knox Private Hospital.
Leon Haslam was the last to go down, the British rider losing the front of his Aprilia at Turn 10.
Reigning Champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) was 12th, the Frenchman who improved throughout the final 45 minutes was lucky not to crash after saving what would have been a huge highside.
Troy Bayliss (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team) found himself in 18th after his first 90 minutes of competitive World Superbike action since 2008. The Australian spending a lot of time chasing a set-up on his Ducati Panigale R machine, eventually elevating himself into the top twenty in the final seven minutes courtesy of four personal best laps in a row.
Wildcard riders Matt Walters (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) and Jed Metcher (Race Center – Demolition Plus Kawasaki) eased themselves into the weekend posting the 16th and 19th times at the end of the opening day.
After FP3 in the morning, 20 riders will progress into the Tissot-Superpole sessions with 10 places on offer for the fastest ten riders after the times from FP1, FP2 and FP3 are combined. As it stands Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) sits in 11th overall and will need to find at least 0.254s to move automatically into the Pole Position shoot-out tomorrow.
Cluzel edges Sofuoglu by small margin on WSS opening day
The first official day of on track action ahead of the opening round of the Supersport World Championship on Sunday has ended with Frenchman Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) leading the way on combined times from the first two free practice sessions by a mere 0.021s.
In FP1 Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) virtually matched the existing race lap record, despite recording only 11 laps, considerably fewer than his nearest rivals.
With track temperature rising when the afternoon session began, the final timed period of the day provided some surprisingly faster laps as several of the leading riders improved. Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25 MV Agusta) was the first to do so, the Italian eventually ending the day an encouraging 7th in the standings.
As FP2 ended, last year's WSS runner-up Jules Cluzel had overhauled his Turkish rival to top the time sheet as former Moto2 rider Gino Rea (CIA Landlords Insurance Honda) completed the top 3 courtesy of his penultimate lap of the session.
Kyle Smith (Pata Honda World Supersport Team), Lucas Mahias (Intermoto Kawasaki Ponyexpres) and Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) rounded out a tightly bunched top 6 in terms of lap times, as 3 manufacturers filled to the top three places.
Aiden Wagner (Oz Wildcard Racing Yamaha) who was an impressive 6th in FP1, crashed in the early stages of FP2, the local wildcard rider eventually ending the day in 9th.
The remaining local riders Glenn Scott (AARK Honda), Alex Phillis (Lorini Honda), and Sam Lambert (Sam Lambert Racing Triumph) were 16th, 20th and 24th respectively.
FP3 will take place tomorrow morning with the one and only timed qualifying session to set the grid for the first race of the World Supersport season, scheduled to take place at 15.55 local time.