Despite not having the feeling or grip he wanted, Pol Espargaro continued his brilliant form of late to finish day-one of the Algarve MotoGP fifth.

In fact, Espargaro was seventh in FP1 before making further improvements during the afternoon’s session. 

While a third victory in succession for the team - both came from Marc Marquez - looks to be difficult due to the incredible pace of Fabio Quartararo and Francesco Bagnaia, the Repsol Honda rider has more than enough pace to contend for a top five or even a podium come Sunday.

For that to happen, Espargaro is aiming to use FP3 to get directly through to Q2 given the potential he showed. 

Speaking after FP2, Espargaro added: "The conditions today weren’t amazing, there wasn’t a lot of grip and I was struggling honestly. 

"We worked on the setting of the bike to make the most of the situation and to be competitive, I think it shows how far we have come since the start of the year. 

"It’s an amazing step when you compare now to the first time we came. Even if I’m not happy with my feeling, we are able to set quite good times and finish in a position that isn’t too bad. 

"There’s still more work to do, especially with the harder tyres, and getting straight into Q2 won’t be easy but we have potential."

On the other side of the garage, test rider Stefan Bradl made a good step from FP1 to FP2. 

The German, who is replacing an injured Marc Marquez due to the eight-time world champion suffering from concussion after a recent training accident, was 21st in the opening session before moving up to 18th. 

"I am content with today, we did a good job overall and we were able to start focusing on some smaller details," said Bradl. 

"Our times are there more or less, with the riders who have been racing all year so this shows our level well. 

"I put in a soft tyre at the end of FP2 but it didn’t help us too much. We keep on working, it’s great to see the Honda going so well here with Pol, Alex and Taka all challenging at the front."