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Martin third for FPR after day one in Spain

Steve Martin's stunning early season form continued today when he finished the first qualifying session at round three of the Superbike World Championship at Valencia, Spain, in third place.

Only championship contenders Troy Corser and Troy Bayliss were able to better Steve's fastest lap of 1:35.653.

That represented an improvement on his fastest lap on race tyres during the recent test at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, and Steve was confident of breaking into the 1:34s on qualifying tyres tomorrow.

He said: "The day has gone really well, although we had a few niggling electrical problems throughout the day. We carried on where we left off for the test, but it is not easy to be up there because every rider here is so fast it's not funny! The forecast for tomorrow was not great so I put a softer rear in at the end of the session, knowing that I might not make it into Superpole otherwise, and put everything into it. But, as well as the fast laps, we managed to do a lot of race testing and we will now be concentrating on our race distance set-up."

The day did not go as smoothly for team-mate Craig Jones, who struggled with engine management problems and finished the afternoon session on 30th.

He said: "I can't remember a day like today and it's frustrating, having had five trouble-free days of testing. The bike doesn't seem to have been running properly all day. I actually got into a decent rhythm mid-session and was expecting to knock another second off. But I am only four tenths off the time I set in testing here, although I know I should be doing better as the chassis feels great."

Friday qualify times, Superbike World Championship, round 3, Valencia, Spain:
1 Corser 1:34.920; 2 Bayliss 1:34.963; 3 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:35.653; 4 Haga 1:35.658; 5 Kagayama 1:35.670; 6 Xaus 1:35.721; 7 Abe 1:35.974; 8 Lanzi 1:35.999; 9 Nieto 1:36.004; 10 Foret 1:36.026; 30 Jones (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:38.410

Friday free practice times:
1 Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1:35.605; 2 Xaus (Sterilgarda - Berik) 1:35.746; 3 Corser (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 1:35.968; 4 Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 1:36.009; 5 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:36.242; 6 Barros (Klaffi Honda) 1:36.407; 7 Haga (Yamaha Italia) 1:36.413; 8 Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 1:36.548; 9 Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 1:36.463; 10 Laconi (PSG-1 Kawsaki); 31 Jones (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:39.045