A small fall failed to dampen Tom Sykes' optimism after an encouraging opening day at Valencia ended with a provisional fifth on the grid.

Although only eleventh in free practice, Sykes was ahead of triple race-winning team-mate Ben Spies and the Englishman went on to finish just a few tenths from the Texan in the afternoon qualifying session. Provisional pole position went to Aprilia's Max Biaggi, with Spies in second for Yamaha.

"Over all for me it was a good day," said Spies, who lapped 0.495sec from Biaggi. "We started off a little bit slower in the first session but again thanks to the team we've come back this afternoon and tried a couple of things with the suspension and straight away I felt a lot more at home, especially with the heavy braking areas . At the end of the session we tried some new tyres and straight away I was doing low 35's, and I feel confident we could have got into the 34's.

"I had a small crash at the end, totally my mistake," he confessed. "I was going into turn two and I tried using a different gear. On the exit it was working really well but unfortunately I had less engine braking on the way in so I just overloaded the front a little and at this pace that little bit is enough go down.

"On a positive note it was something that we can identify, it was my fault and not the bike, we've got a really good base setting and can go into tomorrow looking to make even more improvements."