An unleashed Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki ZX-10RR) definitely wants to fight back at the Autodromo do Algarve after the heat of Andalusia – on Friday, the Northern Irishman was the fastest man on the track in both sessions.

Rea twice best on Friday – Toprak only on P5

In addition to the reigning world champion, his current and last team-mate was able to shine on the first day in Portugal. Alex Lowes and Leon Haslam convince just like Garrett Gerloff, with the third-best time of the day, a strong performance. Almost three tenths behind Jonathan Rea’s fastest time, this year’s challenger Toprak Razgatlioglu was only fifth this time ahead of Loris Baz as a replacement for Chaz Davies on the best Ducati. Behind the fast Frenchman with Scott Redding and Michael Ruben Rinaldi are the two Ducati works riders, Alvaro Bautista on the second HRC Honda and Toprak’s Yamaha team-mate Andrea Locatelli. The three BMW drivers Michael van der Mark, Eugene Laverty and Jonas Folger, however, were once again unable to convince with a clear gap to the fastest rider of the day on his Kawasaki, Johnny Rea. To be outside the top ten means that the blue-whites will have to experience another impending debacle after Jerez de la Frontera.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Yamaha YZF-R1) lost a fair bit to the defending champion in both sessions on Friday, and the Turk will have to improve on Saturday to keep up with Rea in Superpole and in the first run.

The combined ranking from Friday in Portimão

Some driver voices after the first day in Portugal

Leon Haslam (HRC Honda):We approached this weekend with a completely different approach to chassis. The time lost in the morning wasn’t ideal at first, but it was my fault, I was a little too fast and hit the white line. The guys did a fantastic job, basically building a new bike for the FP2. We stayed on the hard tire for the entire session, so I was really surprised that I finished FP2 in P3. To be honest, the times feel quite comfortable and because we still have a lot to do in certain areas, I was surprised to be so far ahead today. As for the tires, I think I can get the more difficult solutions to work better, and I don’t seem to have the advantage that some drivers found with the X spec for the Superpole Race. But again, a lot is about driving given what the track is like, so a combination of things comes into play. Hopefully with our new approach, we can be a little more consistent in both training and racing.“

Alvaro Bautista (HRC Honda):Today was a somewhat challenging day for us because, as always, we are struggling with the specification of the hard rear tires under these circumstances and with our package. In the morning we tried to improve the tire shoulder grip, worked a lot on the electronics and the power delivery and actually made some progress. In the afternoon, when the asphalt became a bit more slippery in the higher temperatures, it was more difficult. But we were still among those who improved their time, if only by a fraction. Towards the end, we put on a fresh rear tire, but I couldn’t complete a single fast lap because there was a lack of traction. In any case, we’re not far behind in terms of lap times. So we hope to find a little more speed tomorrow.

Leon Haslam (HRC Honda) after Jerez de la Frontera again showed a strong Friday performance and the Englishman left not only his team-mate Bautista, but also all BMWs well behind.

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team):I am very happy with the bike and the work we have done today. We made some pretty significant changes to our setup between sessions, and I was more comfortable on the bike; probably the most comfortable I’ve felt all season. I’m relieved in some ways and look forward to tomorrow to see what it brings. I was able to keep a fairly high rhythm over a long run and just got faster and faster. Usually, if you keep the rhythm up at the beginning, the tire waste is pretty big, but I was able to hold and manage the tire. Especially on a track like this, where you put a lot of energy into the tires in the long last corner, I was pretty strong. Great work from the whole team and I’m excited to see what happens tomorrow. I feel ready.

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team): The first day wasn’t bad, and I felt pretty good on the bike. We had a good test here, maybe a month and a half ago. Our bike seems to be doing pretty well on this track. The Kawasaki is stable and fun to ride here. I still have to check whether I can compete in the races here. We got off to a good start this weekend, but first I’ll go to the Clinic for a check-up, and then I’ll see how the hand feels in the morning. Today was good, and it felt better than it did a week ago, but it was very boring to sit in a cast for a few days.”

Alex Lowes (Kawasaki ZX-10RR) was after his voluntary renunciation of the Sunday a week ago in Jerez, due to his hand injury, the surprise of the day with the second best time behind teammate Rea.

Leandro Mercado (MIE Honda):Today was a positive day, I think one of the best Fridays of the year for us. In the morning, I immediately had a good feeling with the bike, and we had a good session. In the afternoon, we worked on the setup. It was about finding more feeling with the front, and I have to say that in the end it was pretty good in terms of grip. The overall package worked really well. I think we also work well together as a team and respond quickly and positively to any challenge we find on our way. We had experienced some technical problems in Jerez, Spider had given us their know-how and supported us very well despite the very tight schedule of these successive races. I am very grateful to these guys for that. And of course we are grateful to all our sponsors and technical partners, because it is thanks to this teamwork that we are making such progress. We were able to grow from the start of the season and continue this race after race, after the voluntary break.

Leandro Mercado (MIE Honda) after the initial problems at the beginning of the season and a creative break by his team from Aragon to Assen, which caused the fast Argentine to miss three laps, he is experiencing a significant upswing.

The schedule for the Portuguese round in Portimao

>WSBK Portimão Preview see separate report on this page.

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