Shane Byrne maintained his place at the top of the timesheets to bring the first day of official World Superbike testing to a close in Portimao, Portugal.

Having led the way during the partially-contested wet morning session, Byrne translated his pace onto a drier circuit in the afternoon to get closer to the pace he enjoyed during post-season testing at the end of last year.

Overshadowing the more fancied factory Ducatis of Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga, Byrne was a comfortable two tenths quicker aboard the semi-private Sterilgarda machine with a lap of 1min 44.265secs to put himself firmly in the limelight as the early rider to beat.

Fabrizio ran him closest in second place, once again out pacing Haga. Indeed, although the Japanese rider was closer on this occasion in fifth place, he was still half a second adrift from his younger team-mate.

Having chosen to sit out the sodden morning session, Ben Spies came back onto track this afternoon and was immediately amongst the pace setters in third, four tenths from Byrne and ahead of Suzuki's Max Neukirchner, who matched his position from earlier in fourth.

Beyond Byrne, the independent runners enjoyed a positive day with Jakub Smrz and Leon Haslam on their respective Guandalini Ducati and Stiggy Honda entries going sixth and seventh best, the latter team enjoying their first proper outing on the Superbike stage after several years in Supersport.

Ten Kate Honda's Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa filled the lower reaches of the top ten, along with Yukio Kagayama, although they were comfortably ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari, who made his first appearance on track down in 17th.

The second Yamaha of Tom Sykes was 11th quickest, just under a second adrift of Spies, while Regis Laconi and Alex Polita were a solid 12th and 13th on their DFX and Sterilgarda Ducatis.

Elsewhere, Kawasaki assumed the role of the fifth best manufacturer when Broc Parkes placed the ZX-10R 14th best, just ahead of BMW's leading representative Troy Corser in 15th. Aprilia, meanwhile, had a difficult day with the RSV-4, both Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano proving off the pace in 16th and 23rd, two and four seconds away from the leading pace as they continue to work on the bike's development.

For reference, Byrne's best lap was six tenths down on what he managed during testing at the circuit in November, although that would have been set in more favourable weather conditions. The quickest lap at the Portimao race weekend last year was Troy Bayliss' 1min 43.340secs.

Testing will continue over the next two days.



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