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Vermeulen sets sights on top eight

Chris Vermeulen wants to match Kawasaki's best 2009 finish at the first time of asking after qualifying 14th for the 2010 opener
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.



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Sykes, Australian WSBK 2010
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