Alex Lowes took the fight to reigning MCE British Superbike Champion Shane Byrne during free practice for Mondays Oulton Park round.
Following a wet start, Samsung Honda star Lowes put in a lap of 1m 36.547s in dry afternoon conditions to be just 0.053 seconds clear of Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rival Byrne, who heads the standings with three wins from four races.
“I'm quite happy so far as we've done a lot in the one session after rain cost us track time earlier but the bike is feeling good,” said Lowes.
“We've got a lot of work still to do; Shakey has tested here and this is the first time I've ridden Oulton Park since last year so I'm feeling good and looking forward to the races.
“I hope to give him something to think about on Monday in the races.”
Byrne had a confident performance in the afternoon session, putting in his fastest time on his final lap, and that was just enough to keep him ahead of Aussie Josh Brookes who had been the fastest in the wet session aboard his Tyco Suzuki.
James Ellison, who had won in the opening round at Brands Hatch for Milwaukee Yamaha, was fourth fastest, while Jon Kirkham continued his recent run of form aboard the Buildbase BMW to set the fifth best time.
Bathams Honda rider Tommy Bridewell, Peter Hickman on the Lloyds British GBmoto Honda, Quattro Plant Kawasaki's Chris Walker who took a victory in the corresponding round of last year, and BSB rookie PJ Jacobsen completed the top ten.
Michael Rutter, who will start his 400th BSB race here in the first of the two races, struggled for pace on his Bathams Honda, ending 17th on the leaderboard.