Jakub Smrz went a long way to prove he can perform well beyond qualifying after securing a maiden World Superbike Championship podium at Assen.

The Czech rider has been criticised for being unable to translate his often giant-killing qualifying pace into consistent race results, but a sixth and third place finish on the Guandalini Ducati represents his best performance over a single weekend since he joined the category in 2007.

Struggling initially in the first race, Smrz dropped as low as eighth position from second on the grid as he was swamped by chasing rivals, but gradually began to find some late race pace, hauling himself up to what was a career-equalling sixth at the time.

Getting a better start in the second race, Smrz stayed in contention with the battle for the podium positions and managed to put a gap between himself and fifth place Jonathan Rea.

Entering the final lap in fourth place, Smrz received a stroke of luck when third place Michel Fabrizio began to struggle with gear selection issues, slowing him down enough for Smrz to cross the line third and claim both his and the team's maiden podium finish.

For Smrz, proving he can deliver on Sunday, as well as Saturday, is a significant boost to his confidence.

"I was just staying behind Michel and he had a problem or something, it was really close but I could just pass him at the finish.

"I'm really happy because everybody said before that I can be fast only in qualifying, so now I showed everyone that I can be fast in the race as well and it's a great result for me and the team."

Team owner Mirco Guandalini was also delighted to see his team represented on the rostrum for the first time.

"In recent races we've often got close to the top positions, without ever getting a concrete result. This time Kuba was brilliant and didn't make any mistakes. Everything went well, and finally we can congratulate ourselves on a result we've been chasing for a long time.

"I want to thank all the guys in the team for the excellent work they've done here in Holland."


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