Steve Mercer admits he is facing an uphill struggle this weekend as he embarks on his debut with the MSS Discovery Kawasaki Superbike team.

More used to the Superstock machine run by the same outfit, Mercer has raced in the Superbike Cup this year, although this is the first time he will ride with the front-running team in the premier class.

Called up to a race seat midway through the first practice session of the weekend at Knockhill after regular rider Stuart Easton was forced to withdraw, Mercer is doing an admirable job of acclimatising to the rigorous demands of the Superbike machine, even if he admits he was surprised by the sudden request.

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"I feel like I am getting there with the Superbike as this really is the first time I have ridden one problem," he told the British Superbike website. "The bike I was riding at the start of the season was a Superstock machine and the Superbike is a completely different beast!

"In that first session when Stuart (Easton) came back in Nick (Morgan) just said jump on! I really was thrown in at the deep end. I found my feet though almost straight away and as the sessions went on I improved about two seconds in the dry conditions."

However, Mercer's cause hasn't been helped by the wet weather that has arrived to scupper is hopes of getting some more useful dry running under his belt. Nonetheless, having sneaked into the top 20 in free practice, Mercer is now eyeing the top 15 in qualifying.

"I was hoping that it would be dry today as the bike was feeling good yesterday. We altered a few things on the bike for me such as the bars and the pegs but it is a really good package with MSS Discovery Kawasaki. I really want to qualify in the top 15 and finish the races tomorrow in the points."