Eugene Laverty heads into the remainder of the World Supersport weekend in Portugal as the man to beat after comfortably claiming provisional pole position in Portimao Q1.
The Irishman, who dominated last season's race around the Algarve circuit, had been a modest sixth after free practice, but steadily worked his way into contention during qualifying before putting in a strong late effort to go more than two tenths faster than the competition.
A positive result for the Parkalgar Honda team, for whom the Portimao event signals its home race, Laverty's performance overshadowed key rivals Ten Kate Honda, who had to settle for second and third places.
Interestingly, Michele Pirro led more experienced team-mate Kenan Sofuoglu, the Turk unable to build on the advantage he built up during free practice.
Joining them up front was Chaz Davies, who not only hauled the Triumph Daytona 675 into a fine fourth position, but did so whilst remaining within a tenth of Sofuoglu and ahead of fifth place Joan Lascorz on the Kawasaki.
Laverty's team-mate Miguel Praia was sixth quickest, the Portuguese rider heading into this weekend confident of a career best finish, while Fabien Foret followed in seventh on the privateer Lorenzini Kawasaki.
David Salom and Jason Di Salvo made it three Triumphs inside the top ten, while Gino Rea continued his impressive progress on the Intermoto Honda to go tenth, ahead of some accomplished names, including Katsuaki Fujiwara, Robbin Harms and Matthieu Lagrive.
Final qualification follows on Saturday.