Qatar: Steve Martin Friday report

Steve Martin Qualifies 17th in Qatar Steve Martin will start tomorrow's opening race of the 2007 World Superbike season in Qatar from the fifth row of the grid, after missing out on superpole by just three tenths of a second with his time ...

Steve Martin Qualifies 17th in Qatar

Steve Martin will start tomorrow's opening race of the 2007 World Superbike season in Qatar from the fifth row of the grid, after missing out on superpole by just three tenths of a second with his time of 2:01.359.

Having not been able to ride his Honda at another circuit other than Valencia prior to yesterday's opening day of the championship, the Aussie spent much of his time during the two free practice and qualifying sessions concentrating on bike set up for the 5.4km desert circuit of Losail.

Steve commented, "It's really good to be back in the paddock and on track in a race weekend environment again. Whilst I'm not overly happy with my qualifying position on the grid for tomorrow's races as 17th just isn't where I want to be, I am encouraged that I was able to go faster during every session on track over the last two days and also posted 12th in the timesheet during this afternoon's second free practice.

"We've made a number of changes to the set up and tested different clutch settings, with the 2007 spec rear shock and new electronics package also fitted for this race, so it just takes a lot of time to work though everything and get the bike working as a whole package.

"And we're still waiting for some further new development parts so things are definitely heading in the right direction.

With comfortably warm temperatures, rather than the sweltering heat experienced in the past at Losail, Steve completed a long distance run in the afternoon with consistent lap times to establish a good direction for final tweaks to his Honda overnight, in readiness for tomorrow's races.

"The long run highlighted that we need to do some more work on the bike's turning, so we've got some changes to make overnight in that area to try during warm up tomorrow morning, as well as making a few tweaks to the set up to try and give the tyres a slightly easier time.

"I'm not 100% confident with the bike set up at the moment, but it's building all the time and I think that completing two race distances on the Honda in race conditions tomorrow will make me feel much more comfortable, having experienced its handling and characteristics then in a full range of situations.

Talking about Losail, Steve said, "It's a pretty easy circuit to learn and this is the third year we've raced here. But it doesn't matter how many times you go round, if you are not on the ball it's easy to make a mistake as there are a lot of turns that look the same.

About Losail The Losail International Circuit, purpose-built on the outskirts of the capital city of Doha, was constructed in little over a year after an investment of some $58 million USD and round-the-clock dedication of up to 1,000 workers. The track itself is a flowing layout of 5.4 kilometres, featuring a long main straight of 1100 metres, surrounded by artificial grass designed to prevent sand from the neighbouring desert from blowing onto the circuit.

What happened for Steve in 2006?

Just four months after major kidney surgery, Steve valiantly qualified in 9th at the opening round of the season, just four hundredths of a second off the second row of the grid. Steve's qualifying lap time was three seconds faster than his quickest lap at the Losail circuit in 2005, providing an indication of the progress he had made in developing the Petronas during that period. In race one, Steve unfortunately dropped a number of places on the fifth lap after hitting neutral going into the hairpin, but he fought back to take 18th place at the chequered flag, followed by a further 18th place finish in race two.

What happened for Steve in 2005?

Steve was denied a double points-scoring weekend when an engine failure on the penultimate lap of the second race denied him the chance to repeat his first race position of 15th.

-credit: www.stevemartin99.com

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Steve Martin