Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark topped the opening wet WorldSBK free practice at Magny-Cours this morning, nicking top spot from Leon Haslam with his final lap with Marco Melandri in third place.
Van der Mark stayed in his garage for most of the hour session, waiting for the track to dry, but rolled out with 15 minutes left to go and jumped straight into third place with his second lap.
After putting in a fast time early doors, Haslam settled in to a rhythm before coming out with a fresh tyre and setting the quickest time of the session - a 1’52.075 - only for van der Mark to better it with a 1’51.852.
It was not a good start for the BSB champ’s team-mate Jonathan Rea, nor his title rival Alvaro Bautista, as they crashed on their respective second laps. Bautista was the first to ditch, going down at turn two while Rea slipped off at turn 13 - but saw the funny side of it.
Rea eventually finished in seventh place with Bautista in 13th but still one place ahead of team-mate Chaz Davies who did two less laps.
Retiring Marco Melandri put in a 1’52.642 to claim third place with his last lap while Tati Mercado was only a place further back in fourth.
Hometown hero Loris Baz led the way at the beginning of the session but slipped back to fifth, surviving a late challenge from Alessandro Delbianco who ended only a second off the pace.
Yamaha’s Alex Lowes finished just behind Rea with Michael Rinaldi in ninth and Eugene Laverty in tenth. Leon Camier made his return to action after a four-month layoff, closing the morning in 11th.
Toprak Razgatlioglu finished ahead of the works Ducatis with Ryuichi Kiyonari completing the top ten.