Ben Spies was in a buoyant mood following the opening day of World Superbike Championship action at Portimao, the American finishing comfortably ahead of title rival Noriyuki Haga.

Knowing he needs a double victory to guarantee himself the 2009 crown, Spies comes to Portugal on a level playing field with his adversary having tested with Yamaha at the circuit previously.

With this in mind, Spies was quickly up to speed, even if neither he nor Haga would end the day as the man to beat overall.

Nonetheless, despite emerging third quickest, Spies was less than a tenth off provisional pole sitter Jonathan Rea, yet almost half a second up on Haga. It's a result that gives him confidence for the remainder of the crucial weekend.

"We had a good day today, we worked a lot on the race set up and evaluated a couple of different tyres. The package feels good and the bike feels good on the track, all we can do is keep trying to make it better and better and keep working on my riding and see what happens. The track is still a little green but it's getting better."