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Jonathan Rea regained top spot on World Superbike free practice at Portim?o after heading a very tight top three while Alex Lowes was a notable absentee from the top ten, meaning the Voltcom Suzuki man goes into SP1 this afternoon.

Having placed second behind Davide Giugliano on Friday afternoon, Rea set an early time that took him to the top of the time sheets, where he remained for the duration of Saturday morning.

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Improvements from Giugliano and indeed Tom Sykes saw the top-three's fastest times separated by just 0.05s, suggesting an intriguing three-way battle could ensue in Sunday's races.

As seconds remained of the 45-minute session Giugliano was on course to better Rea's time but eventually lost crucial time through the final sector.

Aprilia team boss Roberto Colaninno said he expected the Aprilia RSV4 RF to be a match for the Kawasakis and Ducatis on Friday evening. Thus there were subsequent improvements from both Jordi Torres and Leon Haslam on Saturday morning.

Debuting at the technically demanding Portim?o circuit in race trim, Torres continued to impress as his fastest time was just 0.2s off Rea's best. Haslam, making up for lost time after a technical problem on Friday morning, was just a tenth slower than his team-mate in fifth.

Chaz Davies was next up. The Aruba.it Ducati man posted promising times through the opening part of the lap but a mistake in second sector lost the Welshman valuable time.

Always inside the top-six on Friday, Ayrton Badovini was just four thousandths of a second slower than Davies in seventh, one place ahead of countryman Matteo Baiocco.

Consistently outside the top-ten through the session, Sylvain Guintoli avoided another trip into SP1 by setting the ninth fastest time. Team-mate Michael van der Mark was unable to do the same, ending the session a disappointing 14th.

As David Salom was the last rider to automatically qualify for SP1, Lowes (13th) - unable to better his Friday time - Leon Camier (twelfth) and van der Mark will be the notable participants in this afternoon's SP1 session.