In what might almost have been a re-run of this morning’s free practice session, Peter Hickman topped the timesheets in the afternoon qualifying by more than a second from Michael Rutter, and upped the stakes once more.
From the moment the MGM by Bathams BMW completed its first flying lap of the 6.2km Guia Circuit, Hickman went to the top of the leaderboard and stayed there until the chequered flag dropped, with a final lap time of 2’25.10 that was more or less untouchable.
At one point his margin over the rest of the field was well over two seconds, but once again Michael Rutter produced a late flyer to put the MGM by Bathams Honda RC213V into second place - but still 1.7 seconds adrift of the flying Hickman.
Rutter, though, is not Hickman’s only challenger for tomorrow’s second qualifying session and Saturday’s Grand Prix. Third spot on the overnight leaderboard is occupied by John McGuinness on the first of the two Tak Chun Group by PBM Ducatis.
He set a time of 2’27.18 to be 0.348 of a second behind Rutter, and 0.507 ahead of his team-mate David Johnson, and a busy racetrack might be the only reason the Australian is behind McGuinness instead of in front of him as he was on the morning’s timesheets.
Horst Saiger was again fifth fastest on the Saiger Racing Yamaha and then comes Derek Sheils, up from 15th this morning on the Burrows Racing Suzuki, Lee Johnston on the Ashcourt Racing BMW and Davey Todd, bringing the MGM by Penz13 BMW into 8th place, a notable improvement on 19th in the morning practice session.
With Didier Grams showing well in 9th on the G&G Motorsport BMW, honourable mentions once again go to Erno Kostamo (MGM by Penz13 BMW) and Rob Hodson (JGH Racing BMW), 10th and 11th respectively, doing a good job of maintaining position in a field where everyone around them has upped their game and made it harder to stay where they were during the opening session of the weekend.