Jonathan Rea set the second-fastest time in this afternoon’s second free practice session for round eight of the 2014 World Superbike championship at the Autodromo Internacional Algarve in Portugal.
The 27-year-old’s time of 1m43.939s was good enough for third place overall – just six hundredths of a second behind provisional pole sitter, Marco Melandri – after today’s two free-practice sessions ahead of final qualifying tomorrow afternoon at the 4.592km circuit near Portimao.
Rea’s Pata Honda team-mate, Leon Haslam, was satisfied with his own progress with Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade SP today.
The 31-year-old from Derbyshire in the UK ended the day in eighth position, just half a second from Rea and certainly in the mix for tomorrow’s Portimao action.
Jonathan Rea said: “I feel like we’ve made more progress in one day here than we did all weekend in Misano. Part of that is down to the way we’ve been applying changes during the session – we’ve been a lot braver with making the changes. We’re coming from outside the box and we’ve needed to do that. I really enjoy riding this circuit and I have a good feeling for what I need to go fast around here.
“In that respect, this is a good circuit for me to be able to give the guys some direction and I think we’re definitely making progress. We worked a long time on one tyre today and took it into the afternoon to understand how the race is going to be with the high temperatures, but we’ll see.
“The pace for everyone around here is a little bit slow but I think that’s down to the grip level. It&rsq uo;s really low compared to last year and even the winter test.
“But to be so close on the first day is good so we just need to keep making positive changes to improve the bike more. Hopefully we can make those right changes tonight and come back stronger.”
Leon Haslam said: “It’s been a productive day and we’ve persevered with a new theory on engine power delivery. We’ve even gone in what you might call a ‘non-normal’ direction with the chassis as well, changing the balance of the bike.
“There are some definite positives, but a few negatives, too, so we just have to work out which is the quicker way! Johnny is running with the chassis and set-up that we know has got him a lot of podiums here, and that’s a fantastic back-up.
“We’ve got a new tyre this weekend to try, too, which has added some complications. They are going to be two long 20-lap races on Sunday, regardless of what set-up we go with but at the moment we haven’t had too many major problems and we’re getting through all the things we’ve wanted to test.”