Keith Farmer was surprised to finish top of the time sheets after a soaking wet first day at Donington Park, with the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki considering sitting out the round earlier in the week as he struggles to recover from illness.
The Northern Irishman was forced to sit out the second race at Cadwell Park two weeks ago with what he believed to be the flu, but has been unwell since then with a viral infection.
"We didn't even know if we were going to ride this weekend. I spoke to [team boss] Paul Bird on Tuesday, and told him if it was my choice I wouldn't ride, but he convinced me to give it a couple of days and see how I was feeling."
The superbike rookie set the fastest time of the session towards the end, pushing out James Westmoreland, James Ellison and Ryuichi Kiyonari, who had led for most of the session. He told MCN afterwards that riding in the wet weather had allowed him to remain competitive.
"We're giving it a go. We're not pushing as hard in the wet, so it's easier on me, and my body is not under as much strain. We went out on the dry set-up for a few laps, then put in a new spring at the end and went out for a few laps. I was very surprised to go quickest, but I love the rain! If it stays like this all weekend it'll do us good; we need a good result."
However, Farmer said that the track conditions around the Leicestershire track were bad, with standing water forcing the riders to change from the normal racing line.
"Even down Craner Curves there's running water three foot wide. You need to stay offline, cut the track, and cut around the water instead of riding the racing line. I've never ridden here in the wet before, but compared to other tracks it's very, very slippy."