SSTK: Barrier fends off Kawasakis in FP1
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Sylvain Barrier got his quest to close the gap to FIM Superstock 1000 Championship leader Eddi La Marra off to a strong start as he set the pace in first free practice at Portimao.
Following his win last time out at the Nurburgring, BMW Italia rider Barrier has slashed La Marra's advantage down to six points with just two races remaining, a margin that he will be confident of bridging after out pacing his rival by more than a second in FP1.
Indeed, Barrier only had Kawasakis for company as Jeremy Guarnoni, wild-card rider Santiago Barragan, Matthieu Lussiana and Bryan Staring filled positions second to fifth, while La Marra could only manage sixth on the Barni Ducati 1199 Panigale.
Even so, La Marra was still the fastest Ducati rider, ahead of Ondrej Jezek on the 1098R machine and Lorenzo Savadori, while Fabio Massei – riding the only Honda on the grid this weekend – and Christoffer Bergman rounded out the top ten.
Elsewhere, Nurburgring podium winners Markus Reiterberger and Kev Coghlan were 12th and 13th quickest, while South African rider David McFadden is competing again this weekend, this time as Guarnoni's team-mate at MRS Kawasaki.