Carlos Checa is still confident he can challenge for pole position at Assen despite finishing first qualifying down in eleventh place.

Czech rider Jakub Smrz led the way on Friday, lapping the 4.555km circuit in a time of 1:36.058, putting him a quarter of a second clear of reigning champion Max Biaggi, with Marco Melandri in third.

Championship leader Checa was outside the top ten, but admitted he wasn't chasing lap times on day one, and feels he is well prepared for race day.

“This afternoon we worked a lot with the harder tyre available to us”, he explained. “We saw that conditions were not warm enough for the softer solution to be useful. We had tried the soft this morning but you could see that after some laps the bike began to move a lot, telling us that tyre would be better for using in higher temperatures. We wanted to carry out this test and now we have a better idea of what to use if conditions on Sunday are as today.”

The Spaniard had performed strongly in the morning's first free practice session, going second fastest behind Smrz, and the Althea Racing rider believes that provided a clearer indication of what to expect this weekend.

“This morning I was up front and I think we have the pace to be in the leading group on Sunday too. Starting on the front row is quite important at Assen because it's a track where passing is pretty difficult.”

This will be music to the ears of Jakub Smrz and Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing, who led the way in both timed sessions on Friday.

The top 16 riders after tomorrow's second qualifying practice will advance to the Superpole session, which will set the grid for rounds 5 & 6 of the 2011 World Superbike Championship. The decisive session takes place at 14:00 BST on Saturday.