Reale Avintia Racing rider Hector Barbera had a strong start to the Grand Prix of Austria today. In the morning, he was the fastest rider on track and his feelings with his Ducati Desmosedici GP16 were very good. In the afternoon, with the track drying out after a short downpour right before the start of the session, Barbera lost a few position. But the Spaniard hadn’t pushed for a fast lap and concentrated instead on refining the race set-up of his bike. The Reale Avintia Racing rider, who finished sixth in the combined free practice times, used only Michelin’s medium option rear tyre in FP2, because he wanted to keep the soft ones for tomorrow’s qualifying.

Loris Baz’s was just 0.3s slower than his teammate Barbera today, but the session was incredibly close with 16 riders in one second, which relegated the Frenchman to 14th in the combined time sheets.

The goal for both riders tomorrow will be passing to Q2, which is crucial to get the best possible position on the grid for Sunday’s 28-lap race.

“It was a positive first day. In the first session we finished on top and this afternoon we have focused on the race set-up, using the medium rear tyre to work on the race pace and my feelings with the bike. Step by step, we were able to get some useful information. We did not use our soft tyres, because we wan to keep them for tomorrow. But I’m calm. I did 1’25.2 easy with the medium compound. In the combined times of the day, we finished sixth and I think the team has done a good job. We have to take advantage of a track that is suited well to my style and the Ducati. Tomorrow it will be important to move to Q2 and continue to prepare Sunday’s race.”

“At this track, everything is always really close, but overall I think that the first day was good. The bike works pretty well and I need to improve my feelings from Brno where the bike was difficult to turn. Here we have that problem in two corners, but we’re progressing in the right direction. We finished close to the top 10, but I went slightly long in one corner on my hot lap and I lost one tenth of a second. But I’m happy because we are working in the right direction and towards the race. Tomorrow we have to try to get straight in Q2 to get the best possible result in qualifying.”