Ben Spies appeared to have taken at least a small step towards finding an improved race set-up on his Yamaha YZF R1 ahead of this afternoon's Kyalami double-header, the American pacing the morning warm-up by three-tenths of a second.
Despite taking a record-equalling sixth pole position to start the season, Spies insisted that had not yet hit upon the right balance for longer distances, but worked his way to the front of the pack during the 20-minute final preparation session, eventually posting a lap of 1min 38.518secs after twice bettering previous benchmarks.
Points leader Nori Haga shrugged off his own concerns, partly centred on his injured arm, to post the second fastest time, but never featured right at the top of the charts as Jonathan Rea, Ruben Xaus, Michel Fabrizio and Shane Byrne all took turns in P1. The double British Superbike champion eventually rounded out the top three overall, giving himself a morale boost as he lapped close to Haga's pace on the Sterilgarda Ducati.
Leon Haslam also gave himself a shot in the arm by confirming the Stiggy team's belief that he has decent race pace in fourth place, while Tom Sykes and Rea ensured a heavy British presence in the top six, all coming in ahead of Fabrizio, while Yukio Kagayama, local favourite Sheridan Morais and Carlos Checa completed the top ten.
The only incident of the session befell Max Biaggi, who ditched his Aprilia just four minutes in, albeit without injury to the rider, who is due to start on the front row in each of the afternoon's two races. Biaggi was eventually classified twelfth overall.