Photography By Gold & Goose
Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea led today’s opening round of qualifying for Sunday’s World Superbike round at the Algarve Circuit in Portimao, Portugal, the Northern Irelander putting in his best lap near the end of the session.
Rea’s 1:43.551 ended up besting Eugene Laverty, the Aprilia factory rider leading the majority of the session until getting bumped from the top spot by Rea. Laverty’s best was a 1:43.603 – just .052 of a second behind Rea.
Rea will be trying for his fourth career World Superbike pole position and his first since the 2011 season. That pole also came at Portimao.
Third today went to Tom Sykes, the Kawasaki man just .097 of a second behind Rea as the top 11 riders were all within a second of the factory Honda. Sykes is fresh off his two-race sweep at his home round at Donington Park two weeks ago.
World Championship points leader Sylvain Guintoli was fourth on his factory Aprilia RSV4, the Frenchman just a tick ahead of Althea Racing Aprilia’s Davide Giugliano.
Marco Melandri spent most of the session in the third spot, but was pushed down to sixth by the end by Guintoli and Giugliano. Melandri and the factory BMW ended up .475 of a second behind Rea.
Directly behind Melandri came his BMW teammate Chaz Davies. The two BMW men tested prior to Portimao at Motorland Aragon, but the test was hampered by bad weather.
Carlos Checa returned to action after sitting out race two at Donington Park with his still-injured shoulder; Checa ended up eighth, completing 12 laps on the factory Ducati. The lap leader in the session was Sykes with 17 laps.
Fixi Suzuki’s Leon Camier and Sykes’ Kawasaki teammate Loris Baz rounded out the top 10 on day one.
Leon Haslam will again attempt to return from his broken leg; the Brit and his factory Honda ended this afternoon’s session in 13th.
All six brands of motorcycles currently competing in World Superbike were slotted into the top 10.
1. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:43.551
2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1:43.603
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:43.648
4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1:43.934
5. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1:44.017
6. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1:44.026
7. Chaz Davies (BMW) 1:44.245
8. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1:44.246
9. Leon Camier (Suzuki) 1:44.278
10. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1:44.496