Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea stormed to provisional pole position in the first World Superbike qualifying practice session at Portimao this afternoon.
The Isle of Man resident went to the top of the time-sheets on his ninth lap, but managed to do even better on his tenth time round the Portuguese circuit with a time of 1’43.551, edging Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty down to second in the process.
Laverty did dominate most of the session, and looked like the one to beat. The Irishman’s best lap placed him at the top of the time-sheets with twenty minutes of the session remaining, with a time of 1’43.603. But however hard Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes tried he could not beat the times set by the Aprilia and had to contend with being the third quickest out on track, with a 1’43.648 lap.
Laverty’s Aprilia team-mate Sylvain Guintoli never managed to make it into the top three in qualifying practice, and rode a 1’43.934 lap to secure his fourth place finish, and a provisional second row start for the Frenchman. But he did finish just ahead of Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano.
Again it was the battle between the GoldBet BMW team-mates as to who could set the fastest time. In this morning's free practice outing, Chaz Davies out paced Marco Melandri, but this time the Italian managed to gain that extra bit of pace, to go 0.2 seconds quicker than the Welshman with a 1’44.026 lap, placing the former MotoGP rider in sixth on the time-sheets.
Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier ended the afternoon session just inside the top ten, in ninth, with his 1’44.278 lap, just behind Ducati Alstare’s Carlos Checa. But the Kent lad was quicker than Kawasaki’s Loris Baz who rounded off the top ten.
Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam, still recovering from a leg injury managed to complete eleven laps of the Portimao circuit. During the opening stages of the qualifying practice session the Brit found himself matching the pace of Sykes and Guintoli and reached as high as sixth in the time-sheets. But the Smalley rider finished just outside the top ten in thirteenth with a 1’45.075 lap.
There were some incidences out on the track, Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel crashed on his eighth lap with six minutes left of the session remaining, but the rider was unhurt. Red Devils Roma rider Michel Fabrizio did not even complete a full lap of the circuit, as electrical problems meant he had to retire to the pits.