Marino Springs a Surprise in First Qualifying at Assen

Florian Marino upstaged his more experienced rivals by setting the pace in first qualifying for round three of the Supersport World Championship at Assen.

The French teenager gave the Hannspree Ten Kate Honda outfit the perfect start to their home weekend as he set a time of 1:38.945 to edge out Luca Scassa.

The championship leader, who claimed victory in both of the first two events, was 0.176 behind in second.

Spaniard David Salom took third on the Kawasaki machine, while British Supersport Champion Sam Lowes rounded out the provisional front row in fourth.

But it's Marino who leads the way, and he admitted that he'd surprised himself with his pace on Friday afternoon.

“I rode alone this afternoon to try to find my lines and my rhythm again because I felt that they were not there during free practice this morning. The feeling was quite good with the bike and when we put in some new tyres I made three fast laps immediately. We know that the soft tyre lets us go faster, so we worked a lot on the race tyre, but I didn't expect to be fastest today”.

The 17 year-old praised his team for the progress made in the weeks since round two at Donington, and feels he is in with a chance of retaining top spot in tomorrow's second session.

“We made a few changes to the bike this afternoon and used a different front fork. This makes me happy because it gives me a much better feeling compared to Donington, and we have improved the bike in other areas too. Now we will continue to work this way and try to keep this position.”

Team manager Ronald ten Kate was equally buoyant, and also paid tribute to his young charger.

“The beauty of working with a very young rider like Florian is that you're there when those special moments happen, like his first provisional pole position today. For him to do it at the team's home race makes it even more special”.

Britain's Chaz Davies showed potential before eventually finishing fifth, just ahead of Broc Parkes and Robbin Harms. Fabien Foret, teammate of Marino, took eighth as he continues to recover from injuries sustained in previous races, and was hopeful of moving forward tomorrow.

“I don't have a good feeling on the bike at the moment, and that is not really to do with my physical condition. For sure that's not perfect, but neither are the settings with the bike right now. I guess we'll make some change s and try to make things better for tomorrow.”