Gardner finished the opening day a second down on Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who jumped to the top of the leaderboard during the final few minutes after WorldSBK champion Alvaro Bautista was quickest in the morning session. 

The GRT Yamaha rider, who was also impressive during the two-day Jerez test, completed 64 laps on his way to 12th which included finishing behind several riders that used two separate bikes to set official lap times. 

Gardner set his best time on the SC0 race tyre, as did the likes of Rinaldi and Bautista, but when it came to unlocking potential from the SCX the Australian felt as though more was still to come.

"Started off not so bad and for sure I’m understanding more the bike," said Gardner. "In the end we were quite fast with the SC0 but to put the lap time together with the SCX we struggled still. 

"We need to make some changes and maybe this can be the focus [for day-two]. I’m happy with the gap and I think it’s much better than Jerez."

In need of closing the gap, not only to his team-mate, but the front of the field is Gardner’s team-mate Domnique Aegerter, after the back-to-back WorldSSP champion finished 1.6s down on the fastest time.

Aegerter was one of the stars of the show in Jerez, with much of his best work being done on day-two which could be a good sign for today’s final day of action.

Having experienced the Portimao circuit on a Yamaha R6 over the last two years, jumpin onto the Sueprbike aboard one of the more unique tracks proved challenging for the Swiss rider, afte rhe called it very ‘demanding’. 

Aegerter added: "Going to a new track - it’s a very physical and demanding track to ride with this bike. 

"It’s not so easy. So much up-and-down so we tried to improve, make laps and understand the setting to work on the chassis and the electronics part."