Michel Fabrizio fought off the effects of a stomach bug to set the fourth fastest time in first qualifying for round three of the World Superbike Championship in the Netherlands.

The Italian was just under half a second shy of the pace set by Jakub Smrz, and placed the Suzuki GSX-R1000 higher than it had been in any session so far this season.

And the 26 year old feels the Suzuki Alstare Team are moving in the right direction, and is confident he can carry this form into the Superpole session.

“I am quite happy, because I think we did a very good job today. We didn’t panic after the morning session, when we were 16th, but just went about our job professionally and got our reward as a result. We didn’t even use a soft tyre until the end of this afternoon’s qualifying, so I am particularly happy. I have a good feeling with my bike and my lap times have been pretty consistent when I did a bit of a long run his afternoon.

Fabrizio also echoed the comments of Championship leader Carlos Checa, and stressed the importance of qualifying towards the front of the grid in order to stay out of trouble.

“Assen is a very technical track and it’s hard to shave off those last fractions of a second. I prefer the ‘old’ Assen, but I guess most of us do. It’s very important to be on the first row of the grid here, because the first turn is a bit of a funnel and you do not want to get held up there. If you don’t get through it, in the front or up with the leaders, it’s very hard to get back into contention.”

Fabrizio's aim will certainly be to make it into the Superpole 3 session, which he's failed to do in his previous two attempts this season. The first knockout session will start at 14:00 BST on Saturday afternoon.