After its much-improved start to the season in Valencia, HM Plant Ducati/GSE Racing now embarks on the fly-away phase of the 2002 Superbike World Championship - first stop Australia.

Notching up an eighth position for Hodgson and a ninth for Toseland in Friday's qualifying session, the British pair look well placed.

Superbike riders Neil Hodgson and James Toseland return to the Phillip Island GP circuit stronger than ever before. Both riders have improved upon their start to the 2001 season and are now better prepared for the challenges that will face them during Sunday's two races.

"Last year the conditions at Phillip Island were atrocious," said Hodgson. "Race one was extremely difficult because of the torrential rain and race two had to be cancelled. This meant that I only managed to pick up five points.

"This year I feel much more confidant and hope to improve on my results from Valencia. To do that, we'll be looking for an optimum race set-up for the HM Plant Ducati during qualifying to help us get more out of the tyres. We've worked really hard with Dunlop during the pre-season test at Phillip Island in January and I hope that this will pay off for us.

"I love going to Phillip Island and have made good friends with a few of the local people. It's a real home-from-home and that makes it all the more important for me to do well. The track has real character and I love riding there, even if I haven't managed to achieve a podium finish in the past. I am feeling optimistic about the weekend and feel sure that I can end my run of bad luck."

Hodgson's 21-year-old team-mate James Toseland is equally optimistic: "Phillip Island is a fantastic circuit - a real rider's track - it's demanding but very rewarding too. Last year was a wash-out, but this year I'm going to be giving it everything to score as many points as possible. I know the track and have tested there recently and this should make for a great improvement on last year's performance."

Team Manager Colin Wright added: "We're in a much stronger position than we were last year. Testing went well at Phillip Island earlier in the year and we're hoping that what we have learned about the HM Plant Ducatis will pay dividends around a circuit that both our riders enjoy."