Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes parked himself into the top WorldSBK places after the first day in Portimao, at a track that he knew could be potentially difficult as it would be a test of his latest base setting that has worked at other tracks like Aragon and Jerez.
It went well from the off, as he explained to bikesportnews.com: “I feel quite good with the bike. This has been my worst track with the Yamaha for two years. I don’t think I have had one race where I finished in the top ten. Obviously that was not very good. To have a good feeling today is quite nice after some good tests in Aragon and Jerez. I was faster than I expected earlier.”
He continued, “I found a bit of a step in Jerez with a different chassis setting, especially more in the rear. I was not sure if it was going to work here and I back-to-backed the bikes this morning and I had one set up like that.
“I am hoping, and we only have cool conditions, but I also felt it was step at this track. So if it was a step at Aragon, and Jerez, and here, the chances are at the other nine tracks it is going to be good as well. It is really good for me personally.”
Concentrating so much on his machine settings on day one at Portimao, Lowes had little time to try out new tyres, holding off until the end to go with Pirelli’s new ‘sprint race’ ten lap tyre, but he ran out of time to make more than an initial impression.
“We used the normal race tyres all the first day, not any of the new Pirelli tyres,” said Lowes. “At the very end I was trying what they called the SCX, the pre-qualifying tyre, which could be an option for the new sprint races.
“I was on my first lap on that tyre and we got a red flag, which was a shame, because I think I was going to be a bit quicker. It does not matter on the first day. I know a lot of guys tried this sprint race tyre at Jerez and that was my first taste but it felt a bit more like a qualifier than a normal race tyre that I have been using all day.
“I think was more than half a second up until we got the red flag. It felt more like a qualifier, to me, with the grip in the rear, than it was a normal race tyre. I am not sure if it will do ten laps or not.”