Rea, who finished third on combined times behind Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu, appeared to struggle for outright pace in FP1, something that wasn’t an issue in FP2. 

Still, the Kawasaki rider was unable to match the pace of both his main championship contenders due to losing out in sector four, a part of the track that for years has been a dominant area for him. 

Although he called day-one ‘solid’, Rea believes the bike has a lot more potential after a different set-up to that of Aragon left him with a bike that felt somewhat foreign. 

"Was solid, but I felt like in FP1 we lost a session with our set-up," said Rea. "The bike didn’t feel like my bike. It’s a set-up we’ve been using since the start of the year.

"It was something back to a halfway house let’s say compared to the Assen set-up (2021) and what we had at the start of the season. 

"I was more comfortable in FP2 which was like starting again, but I feel like tomorrow we can make a step and fine-tune the bike."

Rea in the mix for a second WorldSBK win of the year?

"I hope so! I hope I can be there fighting. Assen is always a good track and is very hard to go away on your own," added the Kawasaki rider. 

"It's an easy track to sit in the wheels and get dragged along, so let’s see. Depends on the start and qualifying which is very important." 

Rea’s strengths throughout the lap seemed to be sector one and three where changes of direction and stability under braking were needed. 

Razgatlioglu was the rider with the most consistent pace of anyone, while also looking extremely quick over one lap. 

The Turk opted for a different strategy compared to both Rea and Bautista, one where he set a qualifying time in FP1, as opposed to FP2 which was all about building for the race. 

But when all was said and done, it’s the current championship leader Bautista who took day-one honours. 

The Ducati rider was especially happy to rediscover the same feeling he had three years ago at this circuit, which was a weekend where he got the better of Rea in both races.

Bautista summed up his day by saying: "It has been a positive day for us because it’s three years ago that I didn't ride the Ducati in this track. 

"For me it was important to get the feeling again. In the morning I struggled a bit with the colder condition but we worked on the small details, the electronics, and a few small changes on the suspension to give me more feedback with the bike. 

“In the afternoon we didn’t change many things on the bike, just more small details to make riding more comfortable. Also we tried the front tyre, the harder one I like more than Aragon.

"In Aragon I didn’t have great feedback so we chose to race with the SC1, but here I felt more similar and it will be an option for the race. 

"With the tyre we also worked with the SCX in order to work on the tyres. We have to make some adjustments to make the life of the tyre longer."

Could the battle for the win be even spicier than Aragon, Bautista believes so!

Like Rea, Bautista is expecting an even harder battle than Aragon, and one where the top three protagonists for this year’s championship are sure to fight it out based on what we saw during Friday practice.  

Bautista added: "I think it will be even harder than in MotorLand. For sure Toprak and Jonathan will again want to get the first position in the championship. 

"They are more angry for the victory so it will be hard, but I hope to be there again."