Leon Haslam provided further evidence that both he and the Stiggy Racing team are capable of challenging at the front with their factory rivals following an impressive run to third position on the grid at Assen.
Giving the beleaguered team something to cheer about one day on from John Hopkins accident during free practice, the result signals Stiggy's first front row starting position as a Superbike entity.
Haslam's performance was made all the more impressive by the team's risky strategy, one that saw him reach Q2 with a race tyre, before using just a single set of qualifying rubber to ease through into the shootout.
Once there, Haslam lowered his best time to 1min 38.072secs, which was eventually good enough to secure third position on the grid, ahead of both works Ducatis, Suzukis and, crucially, all three factory Ten Kate Hondas.
"It is my first front row start this season,” said Haslam. “I feel very comfortable with the improvements we made to the race set-up by the end of the free practice session.
“We managed to get through the first Superpole qualifying on a race tyre, and got through the second one using just one of the qualifiers, which put me in a good position for the last session. I made a few mistakes, and we do have some small things to work on tomorrow in the warm-up, but I am certainly happy with the progression we have made so far."
With qualifying having proven the team's general bugbear so far this season, team manager Johan Stigefelt has high hopes that Haslam can put his impressive race performances to even better use tomorrow.
"It has been great day for Leon and the team, we set our target on improving our qualifying and secured a front row start. We know that we have the right race pace, but to qualify on the front row is just a perfect start for the race for us.
“This afternoon in the Free Practice the crew improved Leon's settings and that turned out to work very well for him. He has been able to ride consistently fast lap times. I am really happy for the team.
“Everyone has just worked so hard over the last couple of weeks, and it is good to see the results paying off.”