New champion Carlos Checa
showed few signs that he will be backing off in the final round of the 2011 World Superbike Championship as he paced first qualifying at Portimao.
The Spaniard hit the front of the field with just under ten minutes to go with a 1min 43.579secs lap, a comfortable tenth up on second place man Eugene Laverty aboard the Yamaha.
Checa is bidding for his 15th and 16th race wins this season, successes that will firm his status as one of the most successful champions in World Superbike history.
Behind Laverty, Sylvain Guintoli completed a strong day with the third best time, the Frenchman holding down the top spot before Checa and then Laverty usurped him late on.
Practice pace setter Jonathan Rea was fourth fastest on the Castrol Honda, ahead of the returning Max Biaggi, who is winding up his pace in fifth place, while Joan Lascorz led Tom Sykes for a Kawasaki 6-7.
Having struggled down in 17th and 18th respectively in FP1, Marco Melandri and Noriyuki Haga
pushed up into the top ten in eighth and ninth this time, ahead of tenth place Jakub Smrz.
Outside the top ten, Ayrton Badovini was once again the fastest BMW rider, with Leon Haslam and Troy Corser
only managing 13th and 15th respectively, while Leon Camier was 14th best after crashing late in the session.
Meanwhile, Michel Fabrizio
heads up the riders in the provisional 'danger zone' ahead of the Superpole-deciding Q2 session, the Suzuki rider being joined by debutant Davide Giugliano, who was another to fall, Javier Fores, Karl Muggeridge, Josh Waters and Santiago Barragan.