Pata Honda rider, Jonathan Rea finished the first day of the 6th round of the World Superbike Championship from Portimão on top of the timing sheets by less than a tenth of a second.
|Rea finished top of the pile in QP1
Photo: Pata Honda
Rea had decent pace during FP1 and was able to put his Pata Honda in third place in the final moments of the session, just behind Michel Fabrizio and fellow Brit, Tom Sykes. He continued this pace into the first qualifying practice but says he was struggling with both finding an ideal set up at the circuit, along with adjusting to the fact that the track has become a lot more bumpy over the course of the past year.
In the final ten minutes of the session, Rea set a time of 1m 43.551s, which lifted him to the top of the timing sheets.
Tomorrow, the Northern Irishman will be making a decision on his race tyre choice for Sunday’s race, as well as continuing to adjust to the more slightly unsettled nature of the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. “It was quite a frustrating day as we had loads and loads of problems, but the good thing is that it didn’t stand in the way of a good run at the end. So it’s mixed emotions really, because although my guys worked really quickly to resolve the problems, it was frustrating that we’re still having issues on the electronics side. I’m enjoying riding here and although our bike has improved a lot, it feels like the circuit is a little bit slower. It’s a mix of a lack of rubber and how bumpy it’s got in the last year. It’s hard to make a perfect set up and it needs a lot of rider input and thinking outside the box to make the bike work in the fast bumpy areas. But for day one we’ve gained a lot of data, especially in the engine braking area, and we’ve made better inroads than we did on day one at Donington. I just hope that tomorrow we can steer clear of any little gremlins and work on a race tyre. I tried three different tyres today and each one has positives and negatives, so we need to evaluate them some more tomorrow to make a choice.”
Walking wounded team mate, Leon Haslam put in a stellar performance this afternoon also, bearing in mind that it has been just over a month since the horrific leg fracture that the Derbyshireman suffered back in Assen. He finished the day in 13th place, just over one and a half seconds behind Rea. “This morning I was actually in a lot more pain than I was at Donington! The ligaments and tendons in my knee are actually a bigger issue now. I can bend the knee how I want and put weight through my leg like I should, but it’s hammering the ligaments. It was better this afternoon after the clinic did some really good taping and gave me some pain-killers. I didn’t do as many laps this afternoon, but it definitely felt better than this morning. Honestly, we’re a little bit off the pace at the moment but I’m pretty confident that we’ll get closer. There’s still a lot to do with the bike and I’ve still got to put a lap together as well.”