With Noriyuki Haga
possibly out of frame on the third row of the grid, Ducati Xerox team-mate Michel Fabrizio
will take on a potentially vital role in the two World Superbike races at Portimao after qualifying third on the grid.
With Ben Spies needing just two wins to secure the 2009 title, regardless of where Haga finishes, Fabrizio's target is to get ahead of the American and prevent him from taking victory.
Even so, the Italian is aware of the challenge he faces in tackling Spies, who qualified six tenths faster than him in Superpole, particularly in the early laps.
Nonetheless, Fabrizio insists he is up for the challenge, while he has confidence that Haga will be able to work his way back into contention from tenth on the gird.
“Of course I'm satisfied to be on the front row but it wasn't easy,” he said. “Ben really got the best out of the qualifying tyre while I found it more difficult to work with; there are also many strong guys out there this weekend.
“I'll start from third and, bearing in mind that the championship is at stake, I will do everything to get ahead of Ben tomorrow, to help my team-mate Nori in the fight for the title. It will be hard for him, starting from the third row but we will see tomorrow; he is an extremely strong and expert rider.
“For me it might be difficult to stick with Ben, especially in the first laps, but I feel prepared. There's also another Ducati on the front row; it's good to have Shakey here too and I hope that he can be part of tomorrow's battle for the win.”