Rea goes quickest, Spies faster than Haga in Q1 at Portimao
Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) set the quickest time in today's opening qualifying session at the Portimao circuit in Portugal. The Northern Ireland youngster grabbed the provisional pole from Jakub Smrz in the final stages of the session, with a time of 1 minute 43.786 seconds, eight-hundredths faster than the Guandalini Ducati man. Third quickest time went to Ben Spies (Yamaha World Superbike) who was four tenths quicker than his title rival Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), only ninth fastest. The provisional front row was completed by Rea's team-mate Carlos Checa, while the first two slots on the next row went to Shane Byrne (Sterilgarda Ducati) and Fonsi Nieto (Ducati DFX) in an overall result that saw the private Ducatis lap quicker than the factory machines. Seventh place in fact went to Michel Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox), just four-hundredths ahead of fellow Italian Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing). Things looked positive in Suzuki Alstare, with Yukio Kagayama up amongst the front-runners for much of the session and Sylvain Guintoli less than one second away from his team-mate on his WSB debut. The two BMWs of Ruben Xaus and Troy Corser were twelfth and thirteenth respectively, with the two Kawasakis of Broc Parkes and Makoto Tamada making up the top 15.
Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) was quickest in Friday's Supersport free practice session, the Turkish rider going to the top of the timesheets right at the very end with a time of 1 minute 45.355 seconds. The two contenders for this year's title, Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha World Supersport) and Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) were right behind, with the opening salvo going to the points leader, just a fraction ahead of his rival. Mark Aitchison (Honda Althea) was fourth quickest and the only other rider to lap under the 1'46" mark. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com) was fifth quickest, ahead of Garry McCoy, who took a competitive Triumph to sixth. Fabien Foret (Yamaha World Supersport) and Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda) were next up, the Portuguese rider going particularly well at his home track.
The opening free practice session saw two riders hit the top, newly-crowned champion Xavier Simeon (Ducati Xerox) and Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Honda). Both men exchanged a sequence of fastest laps throughout the session, the Belgian getting the better over his French rival in the final stages with a time of 1 minute 47.588 seconds over Berger's 1'47.642. The rest of the field were over one second off the pace, with seven riders in the space of half-a-second. Third quickest was Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (Garnier Yamaha), followed by Austrian Rene Mahr (TKR Suzuki). Javi Fores (Kawasaki Pedercini) was also well up in fifth, ahead of Claudio Corti (Suzuki Alstare), who is fighting to hold on to the runner-up slot this weekend.
Italian riders took the top three places in the opening free practice session for the final round of the European Superstock 600 Championship, but the title challengers were some distance away from each other. Best time went to Marco Bussolotti (Yamaha Trasimeno), with Eddi La Marra (Honda Lorini) three-tenths off the pace. Danilo Petrucci (Yamaha Trasimeno) was over one second behind, Vincent Lonbois (MTM Yamaha) 1. 6" and points leader Gino Rea (Ten Kate Honda) almost 2.5" behind in sixth. Frenchman Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Yamaha) was just ahead of Rea in fifth, while Magny-Cours winner Florian Marino (Race Junior Honda) again went well with eighth quickest time.