March 3, 2006 at 9:45 am #11594GixParticipant
Foggy PETRONAS Racing riders Steve Martin and Craig Jones have an immediate chance to bounce back from the disappointments of the opening round of the Superbike World Championship when the early season action continues at the Australian circuit of Phillip Island this weekend.
The stunning coastal venue was the setting for one of the team’s highlights of 2005, when Steve qualified in second place on the grid and missed out on pole by six hundredths of a second.
The experienced Aussie, who at Qatar became the only rider in the history of the championship to have competed in 16 of the 19 seasons (only missing race starts in 1988, 1993 and 2000), almost matched last year’s Superpole time of 1:33.3 at the team’s Phillip Island test in January when he was the second fastest with a lap of 1:33.40, 0.6 seconds behind Troy Corser.
Team-mate Craig Jones will be hoping to put a nightmare debut round behind him and has made a good recovery from the knee wound suffered during qualifying in Qatar.
Team owner Carl Fogarty said: “It’s a shame that we started at Qatar as that is one of our worst circuits and the early indications from winter testing had been that we might do better than last year. The bike is definitely a better package than the one which started last year and Steve goes very well on his home circuit, so this weekend might give us a better idea of how we will do for the rest of the season.
Steve said: “Phillip Island is a circuit that suits our bike so I am going to give it everything I possibly can. This is our chance to see exactly where we are at with the development of the bike. If we can maintain the reliability demonstrated at Qatar throughout the practices and qualifying sessions here and achieve a good set-up, who knows what can happen. I don’t think Qatar as a true reflection of how we will perform throughout the year, even though we did lap a lot faster in the race than in the previous year. But Qatar was an example of how the bike works differently at different styles of track and we are now going from one of our worst circuits to one of our best.”
Craig said: “I want a more consistent weekend and to keep up the momentum we built up at the last test, although I could still do with a bit more track knowledge. I hope that it will be dry in each session so that I can obtain a good base set-up, which I wasn’t able to find in Qatar.”
Circuit information: Phillip Island, Australia
Best lap: Troy Corser, 1:32.193 (Superpole, 1999)
Lap record: Troy Corser 1:33.019 (1999)
Best lap on PETRONAS FP1 on race tyres: Steve Martin 1:33.40 (2006 test)
Pole position: Left
Circuit length: 4.445km
Corners: 7 left, 5 right
Corner radius: 20m maximum, 23m minimum
Maximum slope: 57m uphill
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