The first day of qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix witnessed an excellent team performance from the Camel Pramac Pons outfit, as they put both riders onto the provisional front row for Sunday's race.

Max Biaggi again headed the team's charge, dispute suffering from a sore throat, as he rode with the latest un-silenced Honda exhausts for the first time at a GP.

"When it looked as though I had recovered completely from my illness, the wind and changes of temperature here in Portugal have given me a sore throat again," he sighed. "We are working very hard with the team and obtaining a lot of data from the bike and the truth is I have a good feeling. I think that we have some good ideas for tomorrow but obviously we need to put these ideas into practice on the track. There is a lot of sand on the track surface and you must ride carefully because it is very slippery."

Team-mate Tohru Ukawa was less than a tenth slower than the Roman, marking a welcome return to form for the under pressure factory HRC rider.

"I feel much better riding the bike and this is demonstrated on track in the times that I have set," he explained. "I have tried different settings throughout the year and now I have found a set-up with which I feel comfortable. We have not made a lot of drastic changes, but we have made many slight adjustments which has made a big difference to the bike's performance.

"It was very windy today but we have nevertheless improved on last year's times and I am optimistic about the race although I still think we have room for improvement if we hope to be more competitive, mainly with rear-wheel traction," added the Japanese.

"We have made a good start to this Grand Prix, with both riders on the provisional front row, but we must work hard tomorrow to improve further," cautioned team owner Sito Pons. "Our times today are evenly matched with the leaders but we need to see how they get on tomorrow. Meanwhile, Max is riding for the first time with the new Honda exhausts which he tested in Brno the day after the race there and he now has two identical bikes. It is his second day with the new engine configuration and it seems he is getting used to it more."

 

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