Jonathan Rea made the perfect start to the weekend at Magny-Cours in France as the Kawasaki rider set the pace in free practice.
Rea, who can win a record third in a row World Superbike title in race one on Saturday, was a massive four tenths faster than Michael van der Mark on the Pata Yamaha, with Ducati’s Marco Melandri third quickest, a 0.477s off Rea’s time.
The Ulster rider’s lap time was well inside the fastest lap of the race set in the race last year by his team-mate Tom Sykes.
Yorkshireman Sykes, who is Rea’s nearest title challenger, was tenth fastest on Friday as he makes his comeback from injury after missing both races in Portugal at the previous round.
Eugene Laverty came off the Milwaukee Aprilia in FP1 after tucking the front, but fortunately escaped injury. The Toome man ended the day in ninth place overall on the combined times.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Ducati) was within half a second of Rea as he finished fourth fastest ahead of Lorenzo Savadori on the second of the Milwaukee Aprilia machines.
Free practice three takes place on Saturday morning ahead of Superpole qualifying, with race one scheduled for a 12 noon start UK time.