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Barros blows away the clouds on first day at Estoril

Barros blows away the clouds on first day at Estoril

Barros blows away the clouds on first day at Estoril

Alex Barros dodged his way through intermittent spells of rain and high winds at the Estoril circuit on Friday to set the fastest lap times in both of the opening free practice sessions for the Grande Premio de Portugal.

Cheered on by a travelling band of Brazilian supporters, Barros signalled his intent to recover from a demoralising opening round in Jerez last weekend, where he finished in a distant fourth place as only Marco Melandri finished within 20 seconds of Valentino Rossi and Sete Gibernau, producing a dominant performance and topping the time sheets by over half a second.

"I'm really happy with today – not just because of the lap time but also with the rhythm," commented Barros, whose team-mate Troy Bayliss escaped unhurt from a spectacular crash. "We've done a great job finding a base setting for the bike, even though the track conditions were cold today and there wasn't much grip. The weather forecast is good for tomorrow so we'll keep working, but we've definitely made a better start here than we did in Jerez."

Whilst Gibernau was second fastest today, with Nicky Hayden completing an all-Honda top three, Colin Edwards confirmed recent progress in a day of tests at Jerez last Monday to lap fourth fastest ahead of Ducati's Carlos Checa and his Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi. Max Biaggi also seems to have made progress since Jerez, moving into the top seven today ahead of Shinya Nakano, the only Kawasaki representative after Alex Hofmann was ruled out of the weekend's action with a wrist problem.


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