Matthieu Lagrive maintained his superb qualifying record to claim provisional pole position for the final round of the World Supersport Championship at a soggy Portimao.
Having broken his pole position duck at Brands Hatch, Lagrive followed that up with another top spot at Donington Park, while the following round in Italy also signalled a provisional pole for the Frenchman.
Now he has topped the timesheets again with a fine late lap aboard the Intermoto Czech Honda, denying the impressive Josh Hayes from scoring a good result at Parkalgar's long-awaited home event.
“I had a good run on wets and as the track was drying I came in for some intermediates,” the American said. “I waited and watched the times come down and then went back out to have a go for pole.
“By halfway round the first spot of rain hit my visor and by the end of the lap it was raining properly so I missed the chance to improve. The test we had here through the week has helped for sure. We are in good shape come rain or shine for the rest of the weekend.”
Practice pace setter Joan Lascorz, who was this week confirmed to be switching to Kawasaki in 2009, was third quickest, while Gianluca Vizziello made it an all-Honda provisional front row in fourth.
Two more of the Japanese bikes followed in fifth and sixth, led by series returnee Kenan Sofuoglu, the reigning champion describing his comeback as if he was returning 'home'.
“I knew as soon as I went out for the first time this morning that I was back on 'my bike' – I felt at home straight away and was able to have some fun on this fantastic new track. Unfortunately, we got a bit unlucky in the qualifying session this afternoon.
“I saw the track was starting to dry so came in for an intermediate, but it was a little too late. By the time I got back out it had started to rain again. But I'm so happy to be back on my CBR600RR and looking forward to some dry time tomorrow.”
Althea's Gianluca Nannelli completed the Honda domination, with Suzuki breaking the CBR600 deadlock in seventh and eighth courtesy of Hoegee duo Barry Veneman and Didier Van Keymeulen.
Jesco Gunther was a surprisingly strong ninth, while new champion Andrew Pitt rounded out the top ten as he took it easy in difficult weather conditions.