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Davide Giugliano left it late to shoot to the top of Friday's World Superbike free practice leaderboard at Portimão as he narrowly placed ahead of championship leader Jonathan Rea.
The Italian, who missed the opening four rounds of the season due to injury, posted a lap time of 1m 43.323s, just 0.058s faster than Rea whose time was in turn two tenths quicker than Tom Sykes.
While Giugliano's outright speed was impressive, he and the Kawasaki pairing of Rea and Sykes appeared to have their machines dialed in as they reeled off a series of mid-to-high 1m 43s laps as well as a series of low 1m 44s.
The session would surely come as a relief to Sykes, who ended FP1 close to one second in arrears of team-mate Rea, who currently sits 101 points clear in the championship standings.
Just under half a second back of Giugliano's time, Chaz Davies was fourth after improving his morning time to the tune of seven tenths of a second. The Welshman ended the day one place and 0.04s clear of the impressive Ayrton Badovini.
Third in the morning, Alex Lowes slipped to sixth in FP2 but will be buoyed by placing towards the sharp end of the top ten in both of Friday's sessions.
Reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoli (+0.795s) was next up in seventh, while Leon Haslam (+0.811s), making up for lost time after missing all of the morning session with machine issues, ended the day eighth.
Jordi Torres was ninth and Matteo Baiocco ensured the top ten were separated by less than a second around the 2.8 mile Portimão track with his tenth fastest time.