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Third row start for Martin at Assen

Foggy PETRONAS Racing riders Steve Martin and Craig Jones showed their resilience and determination during qualification for tomorrow’s ninth round of the Superbike World Championship in Assen, Holland.

After a difficult opening day, Steve launched himself up the standings from yesterday’s 22nd position to qualify on the third row in 11th place.

And team-mate Craig also made good set-up progress to slash another two seconds off his best lap time from yesterday. He will start from 25th on the grid but finished the afternoon free practice session in an encouraging 20th position.

Steve, making up for lost track time on day one, sliced a two second chunk off yesterday’s best time in the morning qualifying session to halve the gap to pacesetter Troy Bayliss. Despite not being able to test qualifying rubber before his Superpole lap because of a technical problem, he further improved his time to leap from 14th to 11th place with a time of 1:40.251 in cooling conditions.

Troy Corser clinched pole position with all riders casting an anxious eye on the weather forecast with rain due to sweep into the Netherlands overnight.

Steve said: “I’m quite happy to be on the third row, considering how far behind we were after yesterday. Today was a much better day and we progressed well, improving my times by two and a half seconds. The improvement came with more track time. I spent the morning just trying to get into Superpole and then concentrated on set-up when I could string a few laps together in the afternoon. But I didn’t get a chance to use my qualifier in free practice and I think I would have been able to eke out a few more tenths from my Superpole time if I had already been out on a qualifier, as I was still learning about the qualifier on my Superpole lap.”

Craig said: “I have taken nearly two more seconds off my best time from yesterday and all I can do is try to keep improving like that, which comes from more circuit knowledge. Carl also came up with a good suggestion to raise the front, which made the bike easier to turn and hold a better line. I think there is more to come tomorrow but, from 25th, I need to get a good start. But I did my quickest times on race tyres in the afternoon free practice, while a few people ahead of me were on their Superpole qualifiers. So I am confident and happy with how things have gone so far.”

Superpole results, Superbike World Championship round 9, Assen, Holland:
1 Corser 1:38.965; 2 Haga +0.044; 3 Kagayama +0.211; 4 Bayliss +0.339; 5 Barros +0.454; 6 Muggeridge +0.578; 7 Toseland +0.600; 8 Pitt +0.791; 9 Nieto +0.993; 10 Lanzi +1.184; 11 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) +1.286; 12 Xaus +1.299; 13 Walker +1.423; 14 Fabrizio +1.538; 15 Gimbert +1.620; 16 Nakatomi +1.777

Saturday qualifying times:
1 Bayliss (Ducati Xerox) 1:39.025; 2 Toseland (Winston Ten Kate Honda) 1:39.410; 3 Kagayama (Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra) 1:39.434; 4 Fabrizio (DFX Treme) 1:39.434; 5 Haga (Yamaha Italia) 1:39.728; 6 Nieto (PSG-1 Kawasaki) 1:39.743; 7 Barros (Klafffi Honda) 1:39.858; 8 Lanzi (Ducati Xerox) 1:39.931; 10 Muggeridge (Winston Ten Kate Honda) 1:39.978; 14 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:40.458; 25 Jones (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:41.789

Saturday free practice times:
1 Bayliss 1:38.629; 2 Haga 1:39.150; 3 Kagayama 1:39.240; 4 Barrros 1;39.736; 5 Lanzi 1:39.776; 6 Pitt 1:39.800; 7 Xaus 1:39.954; 8 Corser 1:39.961; 9 Nieto 1:40.144; 10 Toseland 1:40.156; 20 Jones (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:41.279; 23 Martin (Foggy PETRONAS Racing) 1:41.646