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World Supersport Championship leader Sam Lowes has gotten the sixth round of the season at Portimao underway in fitting fashion with a strong start in FP1.

The Yakhnich Yamaha rider, winner of the last three events, leapt to the top of the timesheets midway through the session with a time of 1min 46.046secs, a benchmark that would stay firm to the chequered flag even when the riders returned to circuit after a lengthy red flag period six minutes from the end.

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One rider to take advantage of the extended break was Jack Kennedy, who moved up to second place in the closing stages, two tenths behind Lowes, while Kenan Sofuoglu also made progress with the third fastest time.

Luca Scassa was fourth fastest aboard the Intermoto Kawasaki, ahead Fabien Foret and Michael van der Mark, the two outside title contenders hoping to give their championship hopes a significant boost this weekend.

Andrea Antonelli landed in seventh position, heading off Sheridan Morais on the best of the PTR Hondas, Vladimir Leonov on the Yakhnich Yamaha and Puccetti Kawasaki's Riccardo Russo.

Elsewhere, David Salom's first outing on the Intermoto Kawasaki since Phillip Island ended with him in 17th place, while British riders Kev Coghlan and Christian Iddon were 18th and 22nd respectively.