Jonathan Rea will start his first ever World Superbike race from third position following a mighty performance on his debut showing in Superpole around the Portimao circuit.
Although the daunting prospect of a one-lap shootout didn't come to fruition when rain returned to the circuit, Rea made the most of the adverse conditions to time his quickest lap better than most and grab third on the grid.
A superb effort as he embarks on his first weekend as a World Superbike rider ahead of his full-time move in 2009, Rea has been the quickest of the three Ten Kate riders throughout the event and is confident he can maintain that status in the races too.
“I think it was a really good swap between me and Kenan (Sofuoglu), who got pole on the Supersport bike today! My front row is thanks to a really big effort from the team who have worked so hard to make the bike comfortable for me.
“We didn't time the Superpole laps that well and I got caught in one of the heavy showers. We're lacking in dry time, too, but I'm sure we can be up there in the wet. It's just fantastic to ride here and I'm looking forward to two hard races tomorrow.”
Rea's team-mates didn't fare so well, with Carlos Checa getting caught out by the weather and being forced to set his times when the circuit was at its wettest. Nonetheless, a series of laps helped him up to an eventual 11th place on the grid.
“We thought it might dry later in the session but, unfortunately, it just got wetter. When I finally went out the conditions were much worse than at the start of Superpole.
“I was able to improve with each lap but, with only 12 laps allowed, I just ran out of time. We've got a good feeling in the dry from this morning's practice and it's also pretty good in the wet, so I'll be hoping for two good results tomorrow.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari, meanwhile, didn't even get the chance to sample Superpole after being ousted in Q2 and being left down in 19th position.
“I keep improving every time out, but it's not enough of an improvement compared to the other riders. We lost yesterday to the weather but, of course, it was the same for everyone else. I guess I'm just learning the circuit too slowly. But if it's dry tomorrow, I'll be confident of two good results – certainly better than my qualifying performance.”