The MIE Racing Honda team has been out at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal today, competing in the first free practice sessions of the ninth Superbike World Championship round.

In warm and sunny conditions, the squad’s riders Leandro ‘Tati’ Mercado and Hafizh Syahrin got straight to work in the morning’s opening practice session. The riders spent this first phase working on setup with their respective teams. While the Malaysian placed twenty-first with a 1’43.357 set in the final minutes, Argentinian Mercado finished a fraction of a second behind, twenty-third with a 1’43.416.

The afternoon’s FP2 played out in similarly favourable conditions. Syahrin soon improved on his earlier reference to finish Friday in twenty-first place overall with a fastest time of 1’43.161. Mercado had more difficulty, grip issues preventing him from lowering his earlier time. The Argentinian therefore positioned twenty-fourth in the combined standings at the end of day one.

Hafizh Syahrin P21

“One positive thing is that I feel physically OK after today’s two sessions and was able to ride normally throughout the day. On the other hand, it’s been a tough first day and it wasn’t easy to ride fast because we are struggling particularly through those sectors requiring hard braking. We lose a lot of time there, but I think that if we can solve that, we can lap in the low ’42s. So this will be the target for tomorrow. Luckily the weather looks like it will be good all weekend so we will see what we can do.”

Leandro Mercado P24

“I honestly was expecting more from this first day here in Portimão and at first the feeling didn’t seem too bad. Unfortunately though, when the pace picks up, I’m not able to improve and make that step that would allow me to ride with stronger pace. We’re mainly suffering from a lack of grip and also with regard to corner entry. We need to keep working and exploit every minute of the next sessions to prepare for the race tomorrow.”