Guintoli Takes Provisional Pole For Pata Yamaha Debut
Sylvain Guintoli's return to the Yamaha Racing family began in fine form at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, in Australia, this afternoon.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team launched their 2016 campaign with the Frenchman claiming provisional pole position in the opening day of MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship action while teammate Alex Lowes completed Friday practice in 11th.
Sunshine and light showers provided mixed conditions for both hour-long free practice sessions but, seeming to master the inclement weather with ease, Guintoli confidently guided his WorldSBK-spec Yamaha YZF-R1 around the 4,445m layout. Concluding the morning sitting second with a fastest lap of 1'31.640, the Frenchman's times continued to improve with the afternoon weather. Retaining a podium-worthy position for the majority of the final 60 minutes, he initially circulated in third before advancing to head the times as the only rider to break the 1'31 barrier - setting a 1'30.865 with 15 minutes remaining. WorldSBK's new schedule sees Friday's second practice times cement the 20 fastest riders' automatic qualification into Saturday's two Superpole sessions, with Guintoli holding the all-important provisional pole.
With less than a second separating the top 11 riders, Alex Lowes concluded his inaugural day on his YZF-R1 with a best lap of 1'31.825 but with the new schedule now in operation he will have to compete in the opening Superpole 1 to fight for his promotion to the top-12 shootout.
Continuing to fine-tune his riding style with his new Yamaha machine, the British racer has a number of settings changes - including his own positioning on the bike - for his crew to adjust overnight. Saturday brings a shortened free practice, with timings not admissible for qualifying, before Superpole and the opening race of the 2016 season at 15:00hrs local time, but Lowes is confident his team's hard work will be repaid for the 22-lap contest around one of his favorite tracks.