Lucas Mahias has laid down the marker to beat for World Supersport title rival Kenan Sofuoglu by topping Friday practice in Qatar at the season finale at the Losail International Circuit.

Mahias needs to finish in the top 11 to guarantee the 2017 World Supersport crown regardless of what Sofuoglu can produce this weekend and has started on the front foot by topping FP2 with a 2m 01.316s to pull out over fourth-tenths on nearest rival Jules Cluzel.

Despite the odds stacked against Sofuoglu to defend his title, having comeback from a pelvis break sustained a month ago at Magny-Cours, the Turkish rider remains in contention having passed a fitness test at the end of FP1.

Sofuoglu will need to pass a second medical examination before Saturday’s FP3 to contest the remainder of the race weekend. The Puccetti Kawasaki rider must either win the race in Qatar and hope Mahias finishes 12th or lower, or take second place and hope his title rival fails to score a point to take the 2017 World Supersport crown.

With Cluzel in second, Luke Stapleford impressed on the Profile Raicng Triumph having set an identical 2m 01.734s lap time to Federico Caricasulo on the GRT Yamaha.

FP1 timesheet-topper and winner in Qatar for the past two years Kyle Smith continued his strong start at Losail by ending the day fifth overall ahead of the Puccetti Kawasaki trio of Anthony West, Sofuoglu and Michael Canducci. Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing Yamaha) and Christian Gamarino (Bardahl Evan Bros Honda) rounded out the top ten and resulting automatic Superpole 2 qualifiers.