Honda’s improved performance at Catalunya a week ago looks to have carried forward to Jerez, after Leon Haslam and Alvaro Bautista finished inside the top six on day one of WorldSBK action. 

Haslam was especially strong after running inside the top three for most of the day, while Bautista made significant gains from FP1 to FP2.

The cooler temperatures - expected to increase as the weekend goes on, were certainly a help for Honda, however, the step made in Catalunya seems to have brought more consistency to the team’s performance. 

Speaking after the opening day, Haslam said: "We had a good FP1. I felt we were quite consistent and kept the same tyre throughout the session. Then in the afternoon we tried a few experimental things but this kind of ruined the natural flow of our race preparation work. 

"We also tried the new Pirelli front tyre but only did three or four laps on it; we’d need to use it over a longer distance to better understand its performance. 

"We did better at the start of the afternoon practice, using the same set-up as we did in FP1, and I was third quickest in that session, but we’ll have to see what the weather brings tomorrow. 

"If track temperatures go up over the weekend as we expect them to, we’ll need to work hard to try and retain the front grip and turning. We have a few things to resolve but fourth overall today is a good start."

Haslam’s team-mate Bautista was 12th at the conclusion of FP1, but managed to find more time than most during the afternoon to eventually finish P6.

The Spaniard could and probably should have been higher up the order if not for a turn 11 crash on his fastest lap late on.

Still, it’s a day that saw the former MotoGP rider find a ‘better line’ with his braking and also lap ‘quite consistently’ despite not liking the new Pirelli tyre.  

Bautista added: "For sure we started with very good feedback from the bike. This morning, I tried a different rear compound specification that Pirelli has brought, but I didn’t feel very comfortable. 

"In the afternoon I used the rear tyre that we raced with at Barcelona and I definitely felt much better. 

"We also tried the new front specification and I’m happy because through some corners I found that I could brake harder and keep a better line. 

"I felt strong and could lap quite consistently. But we don’t have so many of those tyres so for the final run we went with a used front and fit a new rear. 

"During my fastest lap, I felt the rear pushing in the final sector and I lost the front through quite a fast corner. Luckily I’m absolutely fine, but I missed out on the chance to further improve my lap time. 

"Anyway, a very good start to the weekend, and having two Hondas in the top six is great. We need to see how the weather is tomorrow because we expect higher temperatures and we want to understand how the new tyre specifications behave in hotter conditions."