After all the hype and hometown happiness, a calibration error on Troy Bayliss’s Aruba.it Racing – Ducati WSB Panigale meant he only did a handful of laps in the morning session at PI, then only managed to do 19 laps all day. All this when his rivals had enjoyed two days of dry PI testing recently, not to mention anything between 30 and 40 laps today.
Hence Bayliss was only 18th in the Friday combined times, but it was still a decent effort given all the circumstances and pressure.
Up front of the whole first day field was the same name as had been out front in testing a few days ago – Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
He was impressively 0.359 seconds up on a strong rookie WSB rider Jordi Torres (Aprilia Racing Red Devils Roma) who was in turn just ahead of experienced former world champion Tom Sykes (KRT).
All the top three set their best lap times in the morning, with the track temperatures in the afternoon session hitting a grip-reducing 51°C.
Despite this Leon Haslam moved up to fourth in the afternoon on his Aprilia, Jonathan Rea going fifth on his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.
Another Spanish ‘rookie’ – the 2011 125cc GP champion Nico Terol (Althea Racing Ducati) - was sixth and on a good day for the new boys, WSS Champion Michael van der Mark blasted his way up to seventh - another of the few who could improve their best times on such a hot track surface. The track temperatures in the morning had been a relatively low 29°C.
Chaz Davies was eighth on the main Aruba.it Racing – Ducati WSB Panigale, two places behind Terol’s non-factory bike, with the 2014 SBK Evo champion David Salom making great use of his continuing Kawasaki support inside his new Kawasaki Team Pedercini squad to go ninth. He was, bizarrely, exactly one second from the lead rider Lowes, to the thousandth.
Just behind was the battered and bruised Randy De Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) in tenth, with a positive result of 11th for Leon Camier and the updated MV Agusta Reparto Corse F4.
Another battered French rider, world champion of last year Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda) was 12th and 1.474 seconds behind the best after the first competitive day of action on his new Honda.
After a strong showing for the Hero EBR team and Niccolo Canepa in recent tests, a bike breakdown in the first session and then a fall after three laps of the second session meant he completed only three laps all day, and yet still managed to finish 20th from 25 riders.