Melandri sets the pace
BMW's Marco Melandri got his Superbike World Championship title effort back on track by topping first qualifying at Portimao.
The Italian surrendered the lead in the standings to compatriot Max Biaggi after falling in both races last time out at the Nurburgring in Germany.
That left Melandri 9.5 points behind Aprilia rider Biaggi, but his hopes of reclaiming the advantage at the penultimate round were boosted as he led the timesheets with a lap of one minute 43.196 seconds.
The time was enough to put him four tenths clear of Biaggi's Aprilia team-mate Eugene Laverty in second with Tom Sykes, the third man in with a genuine shot at the crown, third on his Kawasaki.
Fellow Britons Jonathan Rea, fresh from his MotoGP debut last weekend with the Repsol Honda team, BMW's Leon Haslam and Fixi Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier were next up, with Biaggi back in a disappointing seventh and needing to find improvements tomorrow to challenge Melandri's dominance.
Reigning world champion Carlos Checa was in eighth on his Althea Ducati with Michel Fabrizio and Welshman Chaz Davies, fresh from his maiden win at the Nurburgring, rounding out the top 10.