Foggy Petronas rider Steve Martin topped the times sheets this morning in free practice at Phillip Island for the second round of the World Superbike championship.
The Petronas team have spent a lot of time testing at Phillip Island, however the engine set up they were running this morning is the same as they tested at Valencia, as Steve explains: "To be fair we didn't even test this set up. This is the same engine set up as we had in Valencia. We are just testing a whole lot of new stuff for the future. Hopefully we are going to be up there a bit more, rather than just the odd time, it's looking good."
Even with all the development Steve wasn't expecting to be top of the pile. "I wasn't expecting to be fastest. But we put everything we learned from the test into the track, and it seems to be working well at the minute." With a bit of luck a podium finish could be within his grasp, as he said, "I'd love a podium finish. I haven't been on there for a while so I'm really looking forward to it if it happens. Long way to go but fingers crossed."
Yukio Kagayama riding the Alstare Corona Suzuki came in fourth fastest. He said that the session went 'so, so.'
Although the temperatures are reaching 32 degrees, the winds have got up and Yukio was finding the blustery conditions hard to deal with. He explained that he was using the free practice to adjust the bike and to adjust his riding, he hopes to be faster in the afternoon's qualifying.
James Toseland, current World Champion, was running in the top ten for most of the free practice, however a few electrical problems kept him off track. When the chequered flag came out he was in eighth position and feeling happy
with the progress that the Xerox Ducati team has made.
Toseland's team mate, Regis Laconi, managed the best ever speed seen in World Superbikes at Phillip Island, as he reached an amazing 316 kph.
The current best lap time is still held by Troy Corser when he set a 1min 32.193secs back in 1999. The fastest time from this session was Martin with 1min 34.801secs. At one point early in free practice there were four Australians in
the top five, an all Australian podium might not be out of the question.
1. Steve Martin
2. Troy Corser
3. Regis Laconi
4. Yukio Kagayama
5. Chris Vermeulen
6. Andrew Pitt
7. Gary McCoy
8. James Toseland
9. Karl Muggeridge
10. Norick Abe