Jonathan Rea topped the first free practice time sheets at Magny Cours, setting a 1.39.064 on a drying tack. PATA Ducati rider Sylvain Guintoli finished second with in form Brits Leon Camier and Tom Sykes rounding out the provisional front row.
Championship leader Max Biaggi set the sixth fastest time with title contender Marco Melandri riding through the pain barrier of his broken ribs in eighth.
After an unusual high-side, Leon Haslam was rushed to the Clinica Mobile with a suspected broken finger.
After treatment which involved removing his finger nail he was quickly released and returned to the garage before heading back out on track where he incredibly finished seventh fastest.
First qualifying gets underway at 15.30 local time.
1. Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) Honda CBR1000RR 1'39.064
2. Sylvain Guintoli (PATA Racing Team) Ducati 1098R 1'39.105
3. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'39.335
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'39.414
5. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 1'39.665
6. Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'39.812
7. Leon Haslam (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 1'39.963
8. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) BMW S1000 RR 1'39.991
9. Carlos Checa (Althea Racing) Ducati 1098R 1'40.054
10. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'40.354
11. Lorenzo Zanetti (PATA Racing Team) Ducati 1098R 1'40.484
12. Michel Fabrizio (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) BMW S1000 RR 1'40.579
13. Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet) BMW S1000 RR 1'40.922
14. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'41.008
15. Maxime Berger (Red Devils Roma) Ducati 1098R 1'41.240
16. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) Honda CBR1000RR 1'41.389
17. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'41.715
18. Claudio Corti (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'41.754
19. Alexander Lundh (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'41.814
20. Norino Brignola (Grillini Progea Superbike Team) BMW S1000 RR 1'43.784