After being left an uncharacteristic 17th in free practice, WSBK's newest superstar, Ben Spies, rocketed back up the order to claim second behind Max Biaggi in first qualifying on Friday at Valencia.

"It was a good day for us, in the first session we ran into some problems and we were unable to finish the session but in the second session we were really good," confirmed the Texan. "I think we've found our race set-up and race tyres already so we're now just going to continue to make the bike better."

Spies, winner of the last three races and now within 10 points of title leader Noriyuki Haga, put his 'Big Bang' Yamaha 0.132sec from Biaggi's Aprilia, although Haga's factory Ducati was just 0.001sec behind in third.

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The WSBK rookie, whose previous Valencia experience consists of a Suzuki MotoGP test in late 2007, is aware that the tight and twisty stadium circuit has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Ducati, but was more than pleased with how his R1 performed.

"I think it's going to be a really good track for the bike, everybody's definitely a little bit closer here, our goal for sure is just to stay with all the other bikes and see how we get on," he said.

"The Ducati's have always statistically been the better bikes round here, so our goal is to stay with them and look for our opportunity, if we can be strong at this track we can be strong anywhere.

"Right now our bike is working really well, but we can still make improvements and make it better for the race," he concluded.

Team-mate Tom Sykes was fifth fastest.