World Superbike Championship leader Jonathan Rea ended Friday’s opening free practice sessions at Portimao in Portugal second fastest overall on the factory Kawasaki.
The Northern Ireland rider, who leads the title chase by 101 points from Aprilia’s Leon Haslam, had led the way in FP1 before he was nudged back to second in the afternoon session by Davide Giugliano on the Aruba.it Ducati.
Giugliano set a best time of 1m 43.323s to hold sway over Rea by only 0.058 seconds, with third place going to Tom Sykes – a double winner at Donington Park last time out – on the second of the KRT ZX-10Rs.
Sykes clocked a time of 1m 43.596s as the Yorkshireman, who is a point behind Haslam in the overall standings after the first six rounds, finished 0.273 seconds adrift of Italian rider Giugliano at the undulating 2.8-mile Portuguese circuit.
Chaz Davies slotted into fourth on the Aruba.it Ducati ahead of Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia), with the top six completed by British rider Alex Lowes on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, who lapped in 1m 43.942s.
Haslam was eighth on the Red Devils Aprilia, 0.811s behind Giugliano, who hit the leaderboard summit late in the second session.
Reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoli was seventh fastest on the Pata Honda Fireblade ahead of Haslam.
Final free practice takes place on Saturday followed by the decisive Superpole qualifying shootout, which promises to be fast and furious as riders battle for a grid position for Sunday’s two races.
Rea has won an incredible eight of the 12 races so far and finished as the runner-up four times to assert his dominance.