Troy Bayliss began his final World Superbike weekend in a commanding manner by sweeping to the top of the timesheets as the riders got their first proper tasted of the new Portimao circuit in Portugal.

Greeted by gloomy weather and a wet circuit, the conditions didn't make things easy for the 31-strong line-up as they learnt the twists and turns of a layout that has already been labelled 'one of the best on the calendar'.

Even so, despite the potential for an unusual order, there was still a familiar name up top as newly crowned champion Bayliss led the way over a trio of British riders, headed by wild-card entrant Cal Crutchlow.

Having enjoyed a few laps of testing prior to the weekend, Crutchlow, as well as team-mate Leon Haslam, looked very much at home as they hauled their HM Plant Hondas to second and third fastest, the duo giving a glimpse to their future potential in the process.

Equally impressive was Jonathan Rea, who makes his WSBK debut this weekend on the Ten Kate Honda. The Supersport standout showed he hasn't taken long to adapt back to Superbike machinery as he secured the fourth best time - five and eight places better than his team-mates.

Michel Fabrizio completed the top five, ahead of Troy Corser, who was significantly better placed than Yamaha team-mate - and runner-up rival - Noriyuki Haga, the Japanese rider only 21st quickest.

Chris Walker made it four Brits in the leading positions in seventh, while Jakub Smrz, the returning Ryuichi Kiyonari and Ruben Xaus completed the top ten.

Elsewhere, Regis Laconi fronted Kawasaki's charge in a promising 11th position, ensuring he was better placed than any of the Alstare Suzukis. Yukio Kagayama was their fastest rider in 15th, with Fonsi Nieto 19th and Max Neukirchner a lowly 24th. Another rider out of position was Max Biaggi, who was 17th after falling from the Sterilgarda Ducati.

Meanwhile, the fifth Brit on this weekend's grid, Tommy Bridewell, made a solid start on the Team NB Suzuki, ending up 27th overall.



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