Ten Kate duo in Dutch demolition

Ten Kate Honda's Chris Vermeulen and Karl Muggeridge put on a scintillating display to post the two fastest times in the first session of qualifying here in Assen, Holland, in round nine of the World Supersport championship.

"The team has been working really hard in the break since the last round at Brands Hatch and that's what showed today. There is still work to do before the race but we're probably in the best shape all year on the Friday of an event," said a buoyant Vermeulen, who snatched provisional pole on his last lap.

Muggeridge, who was pipped by only 0.185s by his fellow countryman, was equally positive, "We're still looking to get the machine turning a little better but the power is really smooth throughout the range making the machine much more rideable."

Both riders bettered the previous Assen best time of 2m06.077s set by Vermeulen in 2002 with the 21-year-old Australian's time of 2m05.736 almost a second quicker (0.933s) than that of nearest championship rival, Jurgen van den Goorbergh (fourth).

"We're having a good look at rear race tyres and, after a break of two rounds, I'd like to be climbing the podium again on Sunday," added Vermeulen, who is looking for his fifth win of the campaign.

Muggeridge is also eager to grab his second World Supersport win (Brands Hatch 2000 being his maiden victory) and the 29-year-old put into perspective the improvements in the bike's performance, "The difference in the motor from the Brands Hatch engine? It's like the difference between a turbo diesel and a petrol car!"

Team manager Ronald ten Kate echoed the words of his riders: "There is a little pressure here at Assen but testing is really paying off and the heat is off now. It's a great start to the weekend."

The unmistakable Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR machines fired the first warning shot to the other contenders in the World Supersport class. And with the extra impetus from racing in front of the home fans, the pressure is on the yellow bullets.

Friday's World Supersport championship qualifying times:
1 Chris Vermeulen, Australia (Honda) 2m 05.736s, 2 Karl Muggeridge, Australia (Honda) 2m05.921s, 3 Sebastien Charpentier, France (Honda) 2m 06.630s, 4 Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Holland (Yamaha) 2m 06.669s, 5 Katsuaki Fujiwara, Japan (Suzuki) 2m 06.932s, 6 Stephane Chambon, France (Suzuki) 2m 07.131s, 7 Barry Veneman, Holland (Honda) 2m 07.313s, 8 Iain MacPherson, GB (Honda) 2m 07.485s, 9 Alessio Corradi, Italy (Yamaha) 2m 07.508s, 10 Simone Sanna, Italy (Yamaha) 2m 07.639s.