WFR Honda's Alex Lowes headed off a charge from fellow Showdown contender Josh Brookes in the late stages of this afternoon's MCE British Superbike second practice at Assen and was the only man to dip under the 1'38s barrier.
Lowes was fastest out of the blocks early on with 1'38.524 and help on to top spot until Brookes dropped him to second with a run of laps which saw the Tyco Suzuki man drop his time to a 1'38.315 and then to a 1'38.715 before Lowes' final effort saw him seize the lead.
"I'?m really enjoying riding here ? the track suits my style,"? reflected Lowes. "?We are getting consistent lap times even though this is a new track for the team and we have all had to work hard. There is no reason why we cannot continue like this ? we just have to stick in there. As for the Showdown and the title ? I?m not thinking about either of them yet. My focus is simply to go out there and do my best.?"
This morning's leader Shane Byrne, who is riding hurt, nicked third place but is the best part of six-tenths off the pace while Michael Laverty, on the Samsung Honda, is another three-tenths further back on a 1'38.761.
World Superbike exile Jakub Smrz, who is a proven qualifier at the Dutch circuit, took his Splitlath Aprilia to fifth place late on, demoting the on-fire Barry Burrell to sixth place while Patric Muff was a surprise seven on the Supersonic BMW.
Padgett's Honda's Luca Scassa would expect to be higher than his eighth given his track knowledge while reigning champion Tommy Hill walked away from a turn one crash and was unable to improve on his ninth place. Chris Walker rounded out the top ten on his Primo Kawasaki 1.4s off the pace.
Jon Kirkham put his Samsung Suzuki in 11th place with final title fighter Tommy Bridewell 12th and some way behind Supersonic team-mate Muff. Ian Lowry crashed unhurt at the end of the session after taking 13th place with Stuart Easton and James Westmoreland completing the top 15.