Although the Italian fans had to wait around a bit longer than planned, they got what they wanted this afternoon at the Imola circuit with their countryman Michel Fabirizio riding the Xerox Ducati to the fastest lap of the free practice. The session was delayed until late in the afternoon when the track was deemed to slippery to ride on when the riders first took to the track earlier in the day.Fabrizio ended up as the only rider to break into the 1:49s, the former Imola Superstock class winner lapping at 1:49.895 with about seven minutes to go to take the top spot from Yamaha's Ben Spies. Spies, however, would end up third as Ten Kate Hannspree Honda's Carlos Checa jumped to second on the time sheets on his very last lap. Checa's best was a 1:50.125, which put him .230 of a seconds behind Fabrizio.Spies took over the top spot from Shane Byrne with roughly 20 minutes to go and he held that sport until Fabrizio took it later in the session. Spies would end up with a best of 1:50.213, just .318 of a second behind Fabrizio. Spies will attempt to earn his 10th World Superbike pole position of the year tomorrow afternoon in Superpole.Checa's Honda teammate Jonathan Rea, who inked a two-year contract to stay with the team today, ended up fourth, some two-tenths clear of Aprilia's Max Biaggi, the second Italian in the top five.The first of the Suzukis was sixth with Yukio Kagayama riding the Alstare GSX-R1000 to a 1:50.516. Then came Stiggy Honda's Leon Haslam with early pace-setter Byrne dropping to eighth. Ducati-mounted Jakub Smrz was ninth with the factory BMW of Troy Corser rounding out the top 10.Marco Simoncelli ended his debut World Superbike practice session in 12th, the 250cc World Champion just over a second off the top spot in his first race weekend on the RSV.Noriyuki Haga, the man fighting to stay in the World Championship battle with Spies, ended the first day in 13th.Earlier in the day, AMA Daytona SportBike regular Chaz Davies ended up 10th in World Supersport practice in his debut on the three-cylinder Triumph.

Friday Practice

1.                  Michael Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:49.895

2.                  Carlos Checa (Honda) 1:50.125

3.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:50.213

4.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:50.308

5.                  Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:50.515

6.                  Yukio Kagayama (Suzuki) 1:50.516

7.                  Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:50.716

8.                  Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:50.801

9.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1:50.806

10.                  Troy Corser (BMW) 1:50.876

World Superbike Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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