Shinya Nakano came closest to making it through to the final eight-man shoot-out in qualifying for the sixth round of the World Superbike Championship, but had to settle for ninth place in the midst of a last minute reshuffle.
While pole king Ben Spies again held sway at the top of the times, his 1min 37.423secs effort standing for much of the final stages, the 'drop zone' group strove to make it into the leading eight, with mixed results.
Heading into the final five minutes, potential frontrunner Jonathan Rea was the first to make a move from a group that, at that time, also included weekend pacesetter Michel Fabrizio, the Irishman vaulting to fourth at the expense of Ryuichi Kiyonari. Nakano then escaped, albeit only to eighth, dropping local hero Sheridan Morais into trouble, while Fabrizio's escape - right up to second fastest, left Leon Haslam fighting for survival.
Yukio Kagayama tried, and failed, to find enough time to escape the clutches of the drop, but improved only to 14th, still in the mire, before Max Biaggi became the final rider to make a break for it, the Italian veteran propelling his Aprillia into the top four and dropping luckless stablemate Nakano back the wrong side of the divide.
Shane Byrne, Ruben Xaus and Gregorio Lavilla completed the list of those bowing out before the final phase of qualifying, while Spies headed Fabrizio and Carlos Checa at the strong end of the timesheet.