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Rea tops thetime sheets on opening day in Thailand

Jonathan Rea has kept hold of top spot on Friday free practice at the Thailand round of World Superbikes but saw Tom Sykes close the gap as the factory Kawasaki squad continued its domination at the Chang International Circuit. Rea, who has won three of the four World Superbike races at the Thai track, looked superior during the morning practice as he instantly found speed while Sykes looked to gradually build up having been beaten by the Racing Ducati riders in FP1. But the Yorkshire rider found his rhythm in the afternoon and with a late lap notched up a 1m 33.783s to move just off two-tenths from Rea who has produced the benchmark of 1m 33.573s.

Despite not improving on his outright fastest lap, Marco Melandri continued to impress on his World Superbike comeback by holding on to third overall and ahead of team-mate Chaz Davies as the Welshman aims to take the charge to the factory Kawasaki riders. Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes kept in contention with the front four, albeit over four-tenths off of Rea, but clear of Barni Ducati's Xavi Fores. Jordi Torres led the Althea BMW fight into the top ten as he nipped ahead of Michael van der Mark on the timesheet, with Markus Reiterberger claiming ninth.

In the Milwaukee Aprilia battle Eugene Laverty grabbed the final automatic Superpole 2 berth with tenth overall fractionally ahead of team-mate Lorenzo Savadori, as Red Bull Honda's Stefan Bradl enjoyed late gains to rise to 12th in front of team-mate Nicky Hayden. MV Agusta's Leon Camier made up for effectively missing the entire FP1 session with 16 laps in the afternoon but will need to go through SP1 after only managing 14th overall.

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