Unsurprisingly, reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea has topped the opening Portimao practice in the Algarve this morning, heading Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes by three-tenths of a second but Leon Camier held off a late charge by old mate Chaz Davies to secure third on the timesheet.
Camier hasn’t had much running in Friday free practice one sessions this season and has spent a lot of time looking a bike being worked on by his crew but the former BSB champion ran the entire hour, putting in 25 laps and ending on a 1’43.729 compared to Rea’s 1’43.170.
The MV Agusta rider has been able to claim fifth and sixth places this season after sometimes missing the whole of Friday, so a decent opening day could set up the Andorra resident for the podium spot he has been chasing all season.
Davies took the Panigale to fourth with a best of 1’43.750 but is losing upwards of three-tenths in the final sector, so as fix there will see him back into his customary top three position.
Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty had their own skirmish for fifth with the Pata Yamaha man coming out on top, Lowes, who was ’27’ yesterday ended with a 1’43.995 and is the last man to break the 1’44s barrier. Laverty took the Milwaukee Aprilia to a 1’44.286 while Michael van der Mark, on the second factory-backed R1, is seventh and 0.266s behind the Irishman.
Xavi Fores ended his morning in ninth place with Red Bull Honda’s Stefan Bradl making his competitive debut at the circuit in tenth. The German did test at Portimao over winter and is 1.664s off Rea’s pace. The team have had a change of personnel since Lausitzring, with technical director Pieter Breddels leaving and Bradl now using the team members that Nicky Hayden worked with until his tragic death.
Lorenzo Savadori completed the top ten, 1.740s off the pace. Marco Melandri spent most of the session in his garage after a technical problem on his third lap saw him roll to a stop and he didn’t make it back out. He sits down in 19th place.
Red Bull Honda newboy and HRC tester Takuma Takahashi got his first look at the rollercoaster track and the WorldSBK-spec Fireblade this morning and finished only four seconds off the pace.