Jonathan Rea has established himself as a firm title contender for this year's World Superbike Championship after setting an unofficial lap record at the end of the three-day Portimao test.

The Northern Irishman was quickest in four of the six sessions held over the weekend, the Ten Kate Honda man putting in his best lap during the final session to complete the test some three tenths up on fellow Briton Leon Haslam.

A dominant performance by both Rea and Haslam, who topped the other two sessions, the pair were once again hard to separate during the session, but only Rea would dip beneath Ben Spies' 2009 lap record benchmark.

Nonetheless, Haslam, who was never lower than second position in any session, can be thrilled with his performance as he continues to get acquainted with the Suzuki Alstare team.

There was plenty for British fans to celebrate beyond Rea and Haslam too, with Shane Byrne, Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland all making it into the top six on the overall timesheet.

Byrne's effort was particularly impressive as he made a strong first impression with the Althea Racing team, themselves displaying greater competitiveness since switching from Honda to Ducati machinery.

Cal Crutchlow followed his former BSB rival in fourth position as the last remaining rider to get below 1min 43secs. The reigning World Supersport Champion was quick all weekend, but more significantly, he was faster than Yamaha Sterilgarda team-mate James Toseland. The former champion was sixth quickest.

Despite battling flu all weekend, Michel Fabrizio was fast enough to out pace Ducati Xerox team-mate Noriyuki Haga in fifth and eighth, while Max Biaggi was a relatively modest seventh on the best of the Aprilias after choosing not to venture out on softer rubber in search of a 'qualifying' lap.

Towards the end of the top ten, Max Neukirchner hauled himself up to a promising ninth as he continues to learn his way around the Ten Kate Honda, while Sylvain Guintoli was the second best World Superbike rookie behind Crutchlow in tenth.

Meanwhile, Althea's Carlos Checa was a quiet 11th, but was ahead of factory riders Leon Camier, Troy Corser, Chris Vermeulen, Tom Sykes and Ruben Xaus, who filled positions 12th to 16th respectively.

Further back, Broc Parkes was 17th on his first public appearance with the Echo CRS Honda team, ahead of Vittorio Iannuzzo, while Pedercini Kawasaki pair Roger Lee Hayden and Javier Fores rounded out the top twenty.


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