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Rain spoils first day action in Qatar

Wet conditions on the first day of the new Superbike World Championship season hindered meaningful progress for Steve Martin and his new Foggy PETRONAS Racing team-mate Craig Jones.

Craig showed encouraging early form in finishing the first practice session, ruined by the first rain in Qatar since last season's SBK round, in sixth place.

But as the track dried slightly for afternoon qualifying, and as times dropped, the FPR pair concentrated on set-up issues with typically dry and sunny conditions forecast for tomorrow and Saturday's races.

Troy Bayliss, returning to the series after a three-year absence, set the pace with a time of 2:17.326, while Steve was 17th with a fastest lap of 2:21.505. Craig finished his first day of Superbike World Championship competition in 23rd with a time of 2:24.221.

Craig said: "I was pleased with the way this morning went and to get a feel for it straight away. It was awesome to be so high up so early and it was a big confidence booster to be ahead of the likes of Barros. That really gets your blood pumping. We had a stability problem this afternoon that we hadn't managed to dial out from the morning session. I am hoping it will be dry tomorrow so that I can find a set-up, get stuck in and show what I can do."

Steve said: "I was happy with the handling of the bike when it was very wet. However, we hadn't really run this new engine configuration in those conditions and we found some problems with the set-up. We know we can fix them and know which direction to go in, by adding some more weight to the front to make steer better. It was good to get the first day of the new season out of the way and I can't wait for tomorrow."

Friday qualifying, Superbike World Championship, round 1, Losail, Qatar:
1 Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 2:17.326; 2 Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 2:19.064; 3 Corser (Alstare Suzuki Corona) 2:19.614; 4 Walker (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 2:19.684; 5 Gimbert (Yamaha France) 2:19.687; 6 Barros (Klaffi Honda) 2:19.834; 7 Pitt (Yamaha Italia) 2:19.991; 8 Haga (Yamaha Italia) 2:20.164; 9 Battaini (Kawasaki Bertocchi) 2:20.200; 10 Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 2:20.469; 17 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 2:21.505; 23 Jones (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 2:24.221

Friday morning free practice, Superbike World Championship, round 1, Losail, Qatar:
1 Gimbert (Yamaha France) 2:25.734;
2 Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 2:26.705;
3 Laconi (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 2:27.269;
4 Chili (DFX Treme) 2:28.761;
5 Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 2:29.145;
6 Jones (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 2:29.997;
7 Battaini (Kawasaki Bertocchi) 2:30.403;
8 Rolfo (Ducati SC - Caracchi) 2:30.417;
9 Barros (Klaffi Honda) 2:30.437;
10 Abe (Yamaha France) 2:30.711;
11 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 2:31.996