Team Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha burst back to the British Superbike scene with a fine performance at the short circuit of Mallory Park, near Leicester today.

With the qualifying sessions becoming a hectic affair around the sub-50 second circuit the red and black bikes proved their pace throughout the two 40-minute long sessions that made up the bulk of the track action.

For the majority of both sessions all three riders were pushing on at a fast pace, establishing themselves toward the top of the timesheets and running in a superb string of race set-up times that should mean good performances in tomorrow's brace of big bike races.

With the wind rising and temperatures falling the pressure was on during the single-lap shootout of Superpole. The lottery of the session is never an easy task for the riders but this particular session was always going to be one of the tough sessions of the year - the nature of the track is that, with tyres taking two full sighting laps to get up to working temperature, riders have to be inch-perfect or run the risk of losing a fraction of a second. And at a track where the fastest lap times hover around the 47 second bracket the smallest error can prove costly.

Sean Emmett took his Team Appleyard/Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha R1 to an excellent fifth fastest overall, the injury that left his hands grotesquely swollen after his fall at Oulton Park two weeks ago subsiding enough to allow Sean to get to grips with his bike again.

His time of 47.426 was inside the existing outright lap record of 47.471, set last year by James Haydon on the Virgin Mobile Aiwa Yamaha R7 machine.

Emmett said: "The lap was pretty good but it wasn't perfect. I maybe could have made up a bit more at a couple of places but I'm pretty happy with that time. I am in touch with the front row and that means I'll just be looking for a good start tomorrow to get away with them. As long as I can do that I'll be in a good position."

Ninth quickest went to Steve Plater who clocked a best of 47.726 with teammate Simon Crafar scoring a creditable 12th best time of 47.870.

Plater said: "I was hoping for a better time but it wasn't to be in that session. I'll have to fight my way through the traffic in front of me during the starts tomorrow but I am sure we will be able to put a good fight out there."

Crafar added: "It's a very small circuit where you can get pushed down the grid for a time that is just a fraction outside the best ever ridden round here last year. That shows how competitive the series is and, I think, just how hard we are all riding."



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