Cal Crutchlow gave himself a welcome little boost ahead of what is set to become his final MotoGP World Championship race as a full-time racer by topping morning warm-up for the Portuguese MotoGP at Portimao.
At the conclusion of what has been a difficult, injury ridden season for the Briton – who will become Yamaha test rider next year – the LCR Honda man shifted himself to the top of the timesheets in the closing stages.
With a best finish of eighth this season, Crutchlow is in a good position now to sign off with a podium from fourth position on the grid.
Crutchlow led team-mate Takaaki Nakagami, the Japanese rider showing well having spent Saturday nursing a painful hand, the legacy of an accident on Friday.
An encouraging morning for Honda all round, Alex Marquez popped into the top ten for first time this weekend with seventh best, while team-mate Stefan Bradl – who gets away from a season-best sixth this afternoon – suffered a fast fall at Turn 9 that destroyed his Repsol Honda.
Starting down in 20th for his first race at world champion, Joan Mir showed glimmers of promise with the eighth best time ahead of top Ducati rider Johann Zarco and Maverick Vinales. Pole sitter MIguel Oliveira was 11th best as he prepares for his home event.
While Mir has wrapped up the championship, there are still six in contention for the runners-up spot. Leading this fight is Franco Morbidelli from second on the grid, the Italian 15th best this morning.