Steve in the points for FPR at Phillip Island
Steve Martin secured two finishes for Foggy PETRONAS Racing in a roller-coaster of a second round of the Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island, Australia.
Having qualified on the front row of the grid, the Australian had to battle for the minor places when the starts to both races left him in the middle of the field. His 14th and 15th places were scant reward for the team's efforts during the weekend.
Steve finished the first race less than 30 seconds behind winner Troy Corser. A similar gap in last year's race would have seen him finish in eight place. He was eventually involved in a battle for 11th with Lorenzo Lanzi, Yukio Kagayama and Regis Laconi, again highlighting the new strength in depth of the championship.
Team-mate Craig Jones completed his first race in World Superbikes in 21st place in the afternoon after being unhurt in a high-side crash coming out of Honda Corner on the 11th lap of the opening race while running in 22nd place.
Corser emerged victorious from a long tussle with Alex Barros after early runaway leader, Troy Bayliss, dropped back through the field in the closing laps of the opening race. Bayliss made amends in the second race, while Corser was taken to hospital after being hit by Barros following a spectacular high-side.
Steve said: "I have three more points than I had at the same point last season. Even though the standard is tougher we are also closer to the leaders than we have been before. I feel as though I am riding well, we just need to work on acceleration and we have a few things to try with the handling at the two tests before the next round. I got a better start in the second race and I managed to stay up there until they came past one by one on the straight. The tyre started to wear and the others could then use their acceleration even more. I was just doing the best I could to hang on where I was. In the first race I got the best start I could but it is a longish run to the first corner and that doesn't help us. I was racing in a quality group and was less than 30 seconds behind the winner. My bike was handling well compared to the bikes of the guys I was dicing with, but had less acceleration. So I was heaps quicker coming onto the straight but couldn't do anything with it."
Craig said: "I had forgotten where parc ferme was! It was a long boring race but I am just glad to finish one. My times were really slow and I was struggling like anything but I was determined to finish no matter what. I definitely feel better for getting one under my belt and now I can build on that, starting with the two tests when I am going to be working on handling in general and getting a good base set-up. I have already been fast on the bike, I just need to get consistent and build on what we have got. In the first race I didn't have any grip, which was causing the back to pump. I was in a rhythm and going steady and I can't believe the bike sprung me off."
Team manager Jack Valentine said: "The team has done everything they possibly could with our current package. The bike was handling superbly and Steve rode as hard as he could. We are just losing a lot of speed on the straights and acceleration out of the turns. I'm pleased that Craig had his first finish in World Superbikes. He rode consistently and hopefully he can build on that to regain the confidence he had during winter testing."
Race two, Superbike World Championship, round 2, Phillip Island, Australia:
Race one results: