Jakub Smrz clocked the fastest time in first qualifying on the opening day of the 2009 FIM World Superbike Championship season at Phillip Island.
The 25-year-old Czech powered his Ducati around the picturesque circuit, which is situated south of Melbourne, in a time of one minute 32.212 seconds.
Smrz's time was just good enough to edge veteran Nori Haga into second by 0.257secs - the Japanese rider enjoying a good first-up day on his new Ducati 1198.
British rider Leon Haslam finished third in the timesheets as most of the riders made good of the warm conditions.
Less than a second separated the top 14 riders, and Smrz told the World Superbike Championship's official website: "For me, Phillip Island is almost the best circuit in the world. It is easy for me to make a good lap here.
"The bike is a good bike and 95% similar to last year's, so I have been able to get on the pace very quickly. For sure, I have a lot of confidence with the tyre, even in these hot conditions."
Smrz will be looking to take his good form into Saturday when the new Super-pole 'knockout' system will be used to decide grid places for Sunday's two races.