Jonathan Rea has held on to the fastest lap honour after Friday practice thanks to his FP1 effort as the fight for the top ten saw Portimao pole-sitter Eugene Laverty miss the cut to make the automatic Q2 spots.
In a repeat from Portimao’s Friday practice sessions, Rea set the standard to beat in the opening session with a fastest lap of 1m 37.202s which ended up unbeaten throughout the day as he turned his focus to long run pace.
The Northern Irish rider consistently lapped inside the 1m 37s bracket to produce an ominous warning to his WorldSBK rivals as he sets up his first shot at sealing an historic fourth consecutive world title.
With the key moments of FP3 action sparking in the final few minutes with the majority of the grid fighting for a top ten spot, aiming to secure the automatic Q2 places, it saw Laverty become the unlucky 11th-place rider on the Milwaukee Aprilia to miss out by just 0.004s to Althea BMW’s Loris Baz.
At the front, Sykes held on to second place for Kawasaki behind team-mate Jonathan Rea thanks to his best lap from FP2, while Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes jumped up to third place by setting the fastest lap in FP3 late on to push Lorenzo Savadori down to fourth place for Milwaukee Aprilia.
It was a positive day for both Pata Yamaha riders, at a circuit where it secured a double rostrum result 12 months ago, with Michael van der Mark taking fifth place on the combined times.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who continually fought for a top 10 spot with a number of personal lap time improvements in FP3, produced an identical lap time to fellow Aruba.it Racing Ducati rider Chaz Davies to see the pair sixth and seventh respectively with the third factory Ducati of Marco Melandri who fought back from a technical issue in FP1 to take eighth.
Xavi Fores edged into the top ten late on for Barni Ducati one-tenth of a second ahead of Baz who pushed out Laverty from the automatic Q2 spots.
Red Bull Honda’s Leon Camier continued to struggle to match the pace at the front in 12th place but comfortably ahead of Puccetti Kawasaki’s Toprak Razgatlioglu with Jordi Torres, fresh from his MotoGP debut with Avintia Ducati, in 14th for MV Agusta.