Melandri fastest in FP1 at Philip Island

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After some early drizzle over Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, WorldSBK kicked 2018 into gear in the damp, with the sun taking some time to begin peeking through.

Reigning champion Jonathan Rea had a hold on the timesheets until quite late in the session, but Marco Melandri hit back in those final stages to put his Racing – Ducati machine in P1 and pip the Northern Irishman. Behind Rea in second, Eugene Laverty completed the top three, also making a late dash to the top.

The session came to an end early with a Red Flag due to track conditions – but with only 34 seconds left on the clock and the problem appearing to be geese around the circuit.

Fourth was a solid opening effort from Barni Racing Team’s Xavi Fores, ahead of the first Pata Yamaha in the form of Alex Lowes. PJ Jacobsen made a late lunge for P6 for new squad on the grid TripleM Honda World Superbike Team, ahead of fellow Honda rider Leon Camier, who took seventh.

Chaz Davies, Michael van der Mark and debutant Yonny Hernandez completed the top ten, with Friday action continuing soon in FP2 and FP3 – and entry to Tissot-Superpole 2 yet to be decided.