Triumph ValMoto riders Craig Jones and Jim Moodie were left down in 13th and 15th places respectively for Sunday's Supersport race at Snetterton, after a tension filled and ultra-close qualifying session.

The Norfolk circuit is one of the fastest in the country and it certainly lived up to its reputation, with 11 riders dipping inside Stuart Easton's 2002 lap record.

As if things weren't tight enough, the second 30-minute qualifying session took a dramatic turn when Tom Sykes crashed his Yamaha on the way out of the Esses.

The red flags came out with only two minutes of track time remaining and the subsequent restart had the effect of reducing the entire day's action down to a single-lap charge with all 36 riders desperate to put in their quickest lap yet.

Competition has never been so intense in the middleweight class - a point this year proved by Easton's pole winning time of 1min 08.720secs and emphasised by the fact that Jones and Moodie's qualifying times were just 0.1 and 0.4 seconds respectively outside the existing lap record.

Although disappointed with his final grid position, Jones was putting in some extremely fast laps around the 1.95-mile circuit. His best time came prior to the last lap frenzy where he had looked set to improve even further, but a minor error cost him the vital fraction of a second that he needed to make it onto the first or second row.

"After the restart I tried to find some space and got on the back wheel of Easton because I knew he'd be right on the pace," explained the 2002 Junior Superstock Champion. "I was losing ground on the way out of the corners but catching him everywhere else. My lap would have been pretty much the same as his but I clipped the curb on the way through the final chicane and then had no chance of catching him up.

"My time was only a second off pole and at this track that's not a million miles away - just a good slipstream. I'll just have to get a good start, get my head down and hope for a little bit of luck tomorrow."

Moodie will also be hoping that things go his way in the race. During his illustrious career the two-time British Supersport Champion has become accustomed to winning and at 37 years of age he has lost none of his fighting spirit.

"Even at this early stage in its development, the Triumph ValMoto Daytona 600 is an excellent bike," said Moodie. "The only problem is that there are 34 other great bikes out there. The pace is so hot that you could be forgiven for thinking that you were racing in the World Championship and you just can't afford to have even the slightest little thing be anything other than perfect.

"I followed Karl Harris round for a lap or two and I'm sure that I could run with him or Stuart Easton on a race set-up, but qualifying is proving to be fairly tough. The bike is running great but I was struggling to get the power down exiting corners. My main problem was that I couldn't get in anybody's slipstream.

"Every time I went out I had half the world behind me but no one would come past and that was the only way that I was going to go faster. I'm not satisfied with 15th place but when you consider that the top 25 riders are only covered by two seconds, it's not the end of the world and the race should be pretty interesting."



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