After the light-hearted fun and games on Twitter yesterday, with Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty poking fun at Tom Sykes and his stated dislike of the hills at Portimão, the serious business of qualifying settled all the disputes.
Another Saturday leads to another pole position for Tom Sykes, with Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies rounding out the front row. Nobody is surprised to see Sykes on pole, and qualifying for Superpole was so close that anybody looked likely to join him at the front. Sykes complained about the wind after qualifying, but unlike Philip Island, where the wind lifted his bike at a crucial moment and reduced the grip enough to spoil the session for him, he still took the top spot.
Jonathan Rea in second place, on a track that doesn't punish the Honda for being slow, worked with Leon Haslam for his setup, sharing data, gleaning where Haslam had more grip and applying the shared knowledge to let him fall back in love with his bike. While Haslam managed only ninth place, his pace on race rubber could put him much nearer the front at the end of the race.
Chaz Davies got much more out of the qualifying tyre than expected and sits in third place, five places ahead of his teammate Davide Giugliano, shifting the pressure for the Panigale's first win away from Giugliano to Davies.
Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli suffered from the blustery wind and had to settle for a second row start, sandwiching Loris Baz, with Eugene Laverty and Davide Giugliano joining Leon Haslam on the third row.
As all the top then riders in Superpole two were within three tenths of a second, predicting who will do well tomorrow is exceedingly difficult, especially as several riders are making confident noises, but maybe the hills will have their part to play.