Portimao World Superbikes - Friday Morning Report

Heavy rain overnight on Thursday meant the inaugural day of practice got off to a late start here in Portugal. There are still problems with drainage, and parts of the track were flooded. What was worse was mud on the track, which had to be cleaned off before proceedings could start.

While the track was fixed quickly, facilities around the circuit are a little more problematic, with power being alternated between the pit garages and the hospitality area, the electricity supply blowing fuses with alarming regularity. And because the outside of the track is still basically a construction site, vast quantities of rich brown mud is being tramped everywhere. At least there is an army of cleaners keeping the buildings almost spotless, but they are having to work for their money.

When practice commenced, times dropped rapidly as rubber started to be laid on the brand new surface. During the first free practice session of World Supersport, Joan Lascorz started quickly, before Parkalgar Honda's Josh Hayes took over the top spot. The Mississippian was making good use of the track knowledge acquired here during testing last week, and was getting quicker when he crashed going into turn 1. He ended the session in 5th place. Joan Lascorz took back the top spot while Hayes limped back to the pits with a damaged bike. 

Lascorz finished the session on top, ahead of Matthieu Lagrive, Kenan Sofuoglu, clearly much happier on a Supersport bike than he was on a Superbike, and the Dutch Hoegee Suzuki rider Barry Veneman.

The World Superbike practice saw Troy Bayliss start as he means to go on. The Australian, who described the circuit as "like Oulton Park with runoff" was fast around the track he has already tested. Unfortunately for the Australian, along with the rest of the World Superbike field, the Portuguese air force came along halfway through the session and stole the show. A pair of Hawk trainer jets from the Portuguese air force's display team were running through the display they will be putting on on Sunday, and all eyes were shifted away from the track, and towards the insane sight of jet fighter aircraft heading towards each other at hundreds of miles an hour.

The spectacle did not deter Bayliss, though. The triple world champion finished the first session on top of the timesheets, ahead of the HM Plant riders Cal Crutchlow and Leon Haslam. The HM Plant team is here for just the one event, and had joined Bayliss and the Parkalgar Honda Supersport team during the testing session last week, and track knowledge is paying  dividends. Johnny Rea, having swapped  his Supersport bike for Sofuoglu's Superbike,  made it an Anglophone top 4, ahead of Ducati's Michel Fabrizio.

The first session of qualifying is about to start, more of which later.

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