Championship title contender Ben Spies got straight down to business today under a clear blue sky and brilliant Portuguese sunshine, spending both the free practice session and following first qualifying session re-acquainting himself with the Portimao circuit.
Spies spent the sessions working through different tyre options and race settings, looking for the optimum set up ahead of tomorrow's second qualifying and following Superpole sessions. He showed a consistent pace throughout qualifying, before putting the hammer down as the final seconds ticked away to finish third in the standings, less than one tenth of a second off fastest man Rea.
Jonathan Rea Speaks... (P1, 1'43.786s)
That was a good first day and we've found a good balance with the bike. We've been trying to put some distance on race tyres and we only used three tyres today. I'm finding more confidence on the bike each time I go out and the team is working really well. We're not getting ahead of ourselves though, and know that we need to go out and attack tomorrow, just like we did today. This is quite a technical track and I felt like I really gelled with it for the first time during that session. That's not all down to me, but also to the hard work the team has been putting in recently.
Ben Spies Speaks... (3rd, 1'43.870)
"We had a good day today, we worked a lot on the race set up and evaluated a couple of different tyres. The package feels good and the bike feels good on the track, all we can do is keep trying to make it better and better and keep working on my riding and see what happens. The track is still a little green but it's getting better."
Carlos Checa Speaks... (P4, 1'43.945s)
It seems that we have a base setting that works really well at places like Brno, Nurburgring and here, while it is more critical at other tracks like Imola and Magny-Cours. Here, we are again on the pace, even though there are still some areas we need to work on. Today, I tested both bikes and the two tyre options and, although the setting's were quite different, the lap times were similar. We will try to push for tomorrow and make some longer runs on the tyres, but I think we are already nearly ready.
Michel Fabrizio Speaks... (P7, 1m44.1s)
"For now I'd say we have things under control. Today we worked mainly with the hard tyres to improve feeling on the track surface. I don't yet have total faith in the front of the bike and the asphalt was not in the best condition, which meant I couldn't really push as hard as I wanted to. Tomorrow we'll make some more changes, testing some different tyres and hopefully I'll be able to improve significantly on my time."
Max Biaggi Speaks... (P8, 1:44:210)
"Unfortunately, just fifteen minutes before the end of the warm-ups, the bike that I had been using all day had a little problem," said Biaggi. "So during the last few minutes I had to use the second motorcycle with which I hadn't even done one lap and it wasn't ready. With respect to the last two races, we suffered from excessive vibrations going into the curve and this created quite a few problems for me. Now we're working a lot to try to resolve these difficulties. I'll have to drive it to try to find the best compromise to be the fastest possible starting tomorrow."
Noriyuki Haga Speaks... (P9, 1m44.2s)
"The lap times today were faster than those recorded during testing earlier this year. In general we haven't had any real problems but we are working to find the optimal setting and we'll continue this work tomorrow. I would like to find more grip but apart from that I am pretty confident, I know we are fast and that we can be very competitive here."
Leon Haslam Speaks... (P10- 1'44.324s)
"We started off qualifying pretty strong, we changed both front and rear suspension settings and we went a bit wrong in the rear but then managed to get the front working in a better way. We put in reasonable times for four or five consecutive laps but unfortunately didn't get many more as we ended up with some technical problems towards the end of the session. We have a good sense of direction for tomorrow and I'm only a few tenths off the quickest so I'm sure it will be good."