French riders gave the local spectators plenty to get excited about on Friday as Jules Cluzel (NRT Yamaha) led Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha) by 0.239 seconds after the two opening practice session.
The sunshine that was a welcome and often unusual accompaniment to the proceedings allowed the best riders to make their best showing, with championship leader Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing Yamaha) third fastest behind his two of his main rivals.
The usual massed tuning fork ensemble of Yamaha riders ran to Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha) in fourth, Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) fifth and another French rider, Corentin Perolari (Yamaha GMT94), sixth.
The three-cylinder F3 of Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) was the top non-R6 machine, in seventh place.
Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was eighth, and clearly the top Kawasaki rider today.
Cluzel’s team-mate Thomas Gradinger (NRT Yamaha) placed ninth and the top Honda runner on day one was Portimao podium man, Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda). Hannes Soomer (Racedays Honda) was right behind Smith; Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing Yamaha) 15th of the 30 riders.