Ben Spies set the pace in first practice as the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend started in difficult conditions at Estoril. An early morning downpour left the circuit wet for the opening Moto3 session and the riders were still reluctant to use slicks until the closing stages, when Spies moved to the top of the timesheets.
The American was among the quickest men on wet tyres too as he gradually lowered the benchmark time into the mid 1:40 bracket. CRT riders Michele Pirro and Yonny Hernandez briefly moved above the Yamaha man but Spies eventually got down to a 1:43.822 before the dry tyres were bolted on.
The two factory Ducatis had stayed in their garage until the track was suitable for slicks and Nicky Hayden immediately set the fastest time when he did emerge, a tenth quicker than Spies, before pulling out a second on each of his next two laps. His 1:41.086 remained unbeaten until the very last attempt of Spies, the only lap under 1m41s.
Spies' late flyer denied Ducati a 1-2 after Valentino Rossi had gone second to his teammate. The Italian still ended up an encouraging third though ahead of Casey Stoner, Alvaro Bautista and Cal Crutchlow who rounded out the top six. The constantly changing conditions make it very difficult to draw any serious conclusions though.
Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa were next up while Yonny Hernandez found himself in a lofty ninth for Avintia Racing. James Ellison was 11 seconds off the pace in nineteenth having only completed six laps while championship leader Jorge Lorenzo brought up the rear after choosing not to run at all.