Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli has produced the best ever world superbike lap of the Phillip Island circuit in qualifying this afternoon for tomorrow’s round one of the 2014 Superbike World Championship.
The Aprilia-mounted Guintoli produced his scorching 1min30.038sec lap with five minutes to go in the 15-minute Superpole session, with Italy’s Davide Guigliano (1:30.135) also eclipsing Carlos Checa’s previous best lap of 1:30.234, set in 2013.
“I am happy to be on the bike and back on the pace,” said Guintoli. “The off-season was a nightmare with my injured shoulder, but I now feel good and am back in shape.
“It ‘s a shame to be so close to the 29-second mark around Phillip Island, but we’ll now have to leave that for next year.
“It’s no secret that this place, this circuit is one of my favourites.”
Guintoli — a race winner at Phillip Island in 2013 — and Guigliano will be joined on the front row of the grid by Marco Melandri (Aprilia, 1:30.332) in tomorrow’s two 22-lap races, while the second row will comprise Eugene Laverty (Suzuki , 1:30.385), practice pacesetter Alex Lowes (Suzuki, 1:30.421) and Honda’s Jonathan Rea (1:30.660).
Next in line will be Kawasaki pair Loris Baz (1:30.796) and world champion Tom Sykes (1:30.797), to be joined by Honda’s Leon Haslam (1:31.138).
Sykes was on a hot lap with just a few minutes to go when he crashed at Lukey Heights – certainly not the first rider to come unstuck at turn nine this weekend. He was unhurt and will be ready to begin his title defence tomorrow.
Top Evo rider Niccolo Canepa (Ducati, 1:31.274), Chaz Davies (Ducati, 1:31.281) and David Salom (Kawasaki Evo, 1:31.950) will start from row four.
After a crash in final practice, Australia’s Glenn Allerton (BMW) didn’t make it out into the final Superpole 2 and will start from 19th on the grid, and his compatriot Matt Walters (Kawasaki) will kickstart his world championship debut from 21st.
MCNews.com.au – Explain what happened with that crash in the final practice session for us please Glenn, were you just starting to wind up to start a quick one?
Glenn Allerton – “Yeah, we had just put a new tyre in, I had looked at the times and we only needed to drop three-tenths to get inside the top ten, and we were on 20 lap old tyres so I wanted to get into the 1m31s again, we out a new tyre in and I was on the out lap.”
Glenn Allerton – “Yeah, on the data I hadn’t opened the throttle any earlier or used a different line I think that just yeah the new tyre in the back pushed the front away from me, but the bike is ready to go and we are up for another crack in Superpole one and maybe even try a bit harder this time.”
Allerton had gone out at the start of the 15 minute Superpole 1 session but must have discovered some problem from the earlier crash and returned to the pits before even completing a lap in order to rectify some issue before putting the bit between his teeth in order to try and set a lap time. He had to get into the top two in order to make it through to the next Superpole session but after effectively only getting in one flying lap in the 15-minute window the best the Australian could do was a 1m33.605, much slower than he went earlier today and certainly nowhere near the potential of himself and the BMW Motorrad Italia HP4. But for the team and Glenn to bounce straight back from that crash and still be somewhere near the pace will give them great heart for tomorrow.
The world superbike races will be held at midday and 2:40pm respectively.
Superbike Superpole 2
65 J. REA
76 L. BAZ
91 L. HASLAM
World Supersport Qualifying
In world supersport, the seemingly peerless Kenan Sofuoglu has continued his stellar start to the 2014 world supersport season by claiming pole position for tomorrow’s 18-lap championship opener at Phillip Island.
The three-time world champion hustled his Kawasaki ZX-6R around the 4.45km circuit to uncork a best lap of 1:32.679 in the 45-minute session, well ahead of the Honda CBR600RR of Dutchman Michael van der Mark (1:33.021).
Italian Roberto Tamburini (Kawasaki, 1:33.290) provided a minor surprise by annexing the final spot on the front row, and the second line of riders will be Kev Coghlan (Yamaha YZF-R6, 1:33.300), American PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki, 1:33.346) and Russian Vladamir Leonov (1:33.379) on the MV Agusta F3 675.
Jacobsen was second on the timesheets with five minutes to go before crashing at turn 10.
Australia’s Bryan Staring (Honda, 1:34.273) will start from 10th on the grid, and knows that a flying start will be critical in tomorrow’s race to stay in touch with the leaders during the frenetic opening laps.
Adelaide’s Billy McConnell (Triumph Daytona 675R, 1:34.39) is only two spots behind Staring in 12th, and Victoria’s Ryan Taylor (Yamaha, 1:36.253) is 24th on the 25-rider grid.
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