Aruba Ducati’s Marco Melandri managed to close the gap to WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea in the final Friday free practice at Portimao but it was disaster for team-mate Chaz Davies who finished in 15th after crash put paid to his participation in the third session.
No-one was able to match Rea’s timesheet-topper from the first session but Melandri got the deficit down to less than two-tenths of a second with a 1’42.003 with nine minutes left to run. Jordi Torres’ time from the first session was enough to keep him in third place overall.
Topratz came from outside the top ten to finish in fourth overall on the Puccetti Kawasaki, setting a 1’42.383 to put himself in with a shot at the podium tomorrow while Eugene Laverty also upped his game to end in fifth with a 1’42.423.
Tom Sykes also improved in the third session as track temperatures began to calm down, setting a 1’42.459 but he was pushed into seventh place by Barni Ducati’s Xavi Fores by 0.018s in the final analysis.
Michael van der Mark crashed unhurt in the same place as Jonathan Rea earlier in the day, losing the front on the bumps at turn five but managed to keep in the top ten with a 1’42.557.
Pata Yamaha team-mate Alex Lowes - who became an uncle today - got in by the skin of his scrotum, slipping into ninth place just before the chequered flag.
Michael Rinaldi had been in ninth but was pushed to tenth by Lowes’ lap, which also meant that Red Bull Honda’s Leon Camier ended the day outside the top ten and will have to go through Q1 tomorrow. He will be joined by Loris Baz who was also moved aside.
Davies, meanwhile, will have to go through one more session tomorrow than his collarbone would want to as the Welshman ended the day 1.5s off the pace after his Panigale momentarily caught fire when it went down at turn eight.