Ducati Xerox’s Troy Bayliss started his final weekend in World Superbike racing the way he has with so many of his race weekends – at the top of the qualifying sheets as practice got underway for this weekend’s Portuguese round at the brand new Portimao circuit.
While the Bayliss name at the top was of little surprise, a few of the other names near the front were. In the end, Bayliss led three British riders in the battle for the top spot – the Brits headed by HM Plant British Superbike series regular Cal Crutchlow.
Crutchlow and his HM Plant teammate, Leon Haslam, were a few of the fortunate ones who had tested at the new facility and it showed with the British pairing ending up second and third in today's first session.
Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea, meanwhile, was also impressive in his World Superbike debut, the Brit moving up from World Supersport for the weekend and ending the first session fourth best.
Bayliss’s teammate Michel Fabrizio ended up fifth fastest, topping Yamaha’s Troy Corser.
Chris Walker was the fourth Brit in the top seven with Jakub Smrz, Ten Kate’s Ryuichi Kiyonari and Spaniard Ruben Xaus rounding out the top 10 qualifiers from Fridays' first session.
Somewhat surprising was Yamaha’s Noriyuki Haga, the Japanese star languishing in 21st in the opening session.
1. Troy Bayliss (Ducati) 1:59.492
2. Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1:59.813
3. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:59.958
4. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 2:00.145
5. Michel Fabrizio (Ducati) 2:00.245
6. Troy Corser (Yamaha) 2:00.313
7. Chris Walker (Honda) 2:01.153
8. Jakub Smrz (Duc) 2:01.454
9. Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda) 2:01.918
10. Ruben Xaus (Ducati) 2:02.057