Chris Vermeulen is targeting a top eight finish on his Kawasaki World Superbike debut at Phillip Island, despite qualifying on the fourth row of the grid.
The Australian makes his much-anticipated return to World Superbike competition this weekend, but while he signalled his intent with a run to eighth position during SP1, an error during SP2 would leave him in 14th position.
Nonetheless, Vermeulen was pleased to be in amongst the mid-field riders, the former MotoGP race winner adding that he believes a top eight race finish is in the offing.
“We have come forward a long way, and today was the first time I had ever had the chance to use a qualifier. We ran one in the first of the Superpole sessions and it worked reasonably well.
“We went out again and made a couple of mistakes on the other qualifier, then used a soft race tyre after that. My early split times were improved, but we had a small problem with the bike and we couldn't complete that quick lap.
“The top seven or eight is possible tomorrow, but I do not know who is doing what with their tyres, and there will be a lot of guys in there. We still have to decide on a final tyre choice, it just depends on the weather.”
While Vermeulen is aiming high, it is actually his team-mate Sykes who is better positioned to progress after qualifying a row ahead in 12th.
“The bike has felt consistent doing those 1min 32secs in qualifying and Superpole, which is nice. We changed a couple of things and certainly we could have squeezed a little more out of the package on the softer tyres.
“We are starting on the third row of the grid, which I think compared to where things were at last year, we are certainly working in a good direction. We have some thinking to do tonight because we got a lot of new information today. That is certainly going to give us a better indication of which direction to go in tomorrow, depending on the weather conditions.”
Kawasaki's best result of the 2009 season was a seventh place finish by Jamie Hacking at Miller Motorsports Park.