The factory Ducati rider starts the final round tied with outgoing champion Toprak Razgatlioglu on 14 race victories so far this year.

While Bautista recovered from an FP1 spill at the newly-named Miller Corner (Turn 4) to get the upper hand over Razgatlioglu’s Yamaha, he was beaten to the top spot by Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea in both sessions.

“I had a small crash at Turn 4 this morning,” Bautista said. “I went a bit off of the line and I lost the front. The only thing is that I couldn’t finish the practice but fortunately, it was nothing serious.”

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As ever at Phillip Island, tyre endurance is sure to be a key issue in the full length races, providing the dry and sunny conditions continue.

“Today, we had two new tyres from Pirelli so it was important to understand the tyres,” Bautista said. “In the morning I started with the B option; we did a few laps and I understood more or less the potential and the feeling with the bike.

“ This afternoon, we tried both tyres but in the first run, I tried the A solution and I felt quite comfortable, so we decided to keep working with this tyre because for me, it means a better feeling on the bike.

“In the end, it could be an option for the race if it doesn’t rain.

“I think it’s been a positive Friday because we worked on the pace, and I felt good on the bike.”

"I am happy because the race pace is incisive. I think we have a good base ahead of the races even though the weather conditions could mix things up starting from tomorrow.

“In any case, we are ready to race in any conditions.”

Razgatlioglu, who needs to fend off Rea to secure title runner-up, was third in FP1 and fourth in FP2.

Bautista’s team-mate Michael Rinaldi was tenth fastest.