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Steve sixth after first day at Phillip Island

Steve Martin qualified in sixth place for tomorrow's qualifying sessions at the second round of the Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island, Australia.

But, with just four tenths separating 5th to 16th places, the competition in this year's championship remains as hot as the weather at the coastal circuit.

Craig Jones continued to progress along his steep learning curve and gradually improved his times throughout the day on his second visit to the circuit, which was afflicted by typically blustery conditions that affected lap times throughout the field.

Troy Bayliss set the early pace with a time of 1:33.387, closely followed by rookie superbike rider Alex Barros.

Steve said: "The track is definitely a lot more slippery than at the test so it is difficult to do the same sort of times. The wind has been up and changing direction all day and our bike seems to be sensitive to which way the wind blows here. We still have a fair bit to try to see if we can eke out a few tenths because it is so tight at the top. I did a good run of consistently good lap times and I am concentrating on setting the bike up for the race, not for qualifying."

Craig said: "I listened to what everyone wanted me to do, which was to keep the bike upright and go steady. I wanted to find the limit slowly and, although I am still not down to the times I did at the test here, I think there is a lot of time to find in set-up, track knowledge and also in myself. We are gradually chipping away and we have cured the wobbling that we experienced at Qatar, which is a massive relief. I'm not exactly happy, because I am not pushing 110 per cent like I always do but at least I know I've got a little bit in reserve and I will try and turn the wick up a little bit tomorrow. But the main thing is to come away from here with confidence for the remainder of the season."

Friday qualifying, Superbike World Championship, round 2, Phillip Island, Australia:
1 Bayliss 1:33.387;
2 Barros 1:33.790;
3 Toseland 1:33.851;
4 Corser 1:33.868;
5 Kagayama 1:34.461;
6 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:34.501;
7 Haga 1:34.577;
8 Walker 1:34.589;
9 Chili 1:34.601;
10 Nieto 1:34.618;
28 Jones (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:36.408

Free practice:
1 Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1:33.483;
2 Walker (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 1:33.755;
3 Toseland (Winston Ten Kate Honda) 1:33.951;
4 Corser (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 1:34.163;
5 Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 1:34.208;
6 Haga (Yamaha Italia) 1:34.486;
7 Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 1:34.601;
8 Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 1:34.717;
9 Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda) 1:34.785;
10 Rolfo (Ducati SC - Caracchi) 1:34.790;
13 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:34.877;
28 Jones (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:38.011