MCE British Superbike title leader Tommy Hill grabbed the top spot in Friday practice ahead of the penultimate round at Silverstone with a dramatic last lap dash that gave him the advantage over Josh Brookes.
Worx Crescent Suzuki's Hill proved fast in all conditions, having been fourth in the wet morning session - only 0.286sec down on his in nearest title rival, Michael Laverty, riding the Relentless Suzuki.
Michael Rutter and HM Plant Honda rider Brookes were sandwiched in between them and the Title Fighters all figured again in the top four in as weather conditions improved in the afternoon.
Hill was always be in contention for the top spot, but only got the better of Brookes on his 13th and final lap of the session.
“It has been a good day, a good start to the weekend and we are where we want to be,” said Hill, adding: “I'm suffering from a bit of man-flu, a bit weak and tired, but I'll get there.
"The afternoon was good for me, though it was a bit windy. That was pushing me off line at some of the corners, but hopefully there will be less of that for the rest of the weekend and I can push forwards - as will everyone else.
“We have to be on the front row of the grid to be in the mix and that is what I am working for, then we have to be consistent in the races,” added Hill who was 0.383sec faster than Brookes who needs strong results to put his title bid back on course.
The Aussie had a tough time in the previous round at Croft, leaving him 28 points down on Hill, but building on the experience he gained with a winning double on the HM Plant team's Superstock Fireblade in the MotoGP support races and also riding in the World Superbike round, he means business.
Laverty, a dozen points better off than Brookes in the title standings, ran a split second down on him but is confident of continuing the rich vein of form he showed at Croft with a second place and then a victory.
Add in the challenge of the most experienced rider on the grid, Michael Rutter aboard the RidersMotorcycles.com Ducati, who is well on the pace to run fourth fastest, and the Showdown for the title is intensifying, especially as former two times winner of the British crown Ryuichi Kiyonari is confident that he can improve his lap times which left him back in seventh place.
Alastair Seeley was the sixth of the Title Fighters and is hoping for an upturn in fortune. The Relentless Suzuki rider had run sixth in the wet but tipped off at Farm in the opening minutes of the second session, meaning he could take no further part this afternoon.