Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli is back on top in Australia as he started the first weekend of 2016 on top,setting a lap time of 1.30.865.
Looking forward to the new two-day schedule for 2016, the Pata Yamaha rider explains his instantly fast pace was due to the base setting on his R1 which himself and his team have been working on over the winter.
The only rider to get under the 1.31 lap time, Micheal Van Der Mark finished the day 0.384s behind Guintoli and was the only rider to challenge for the top spot.
Automatically into Superpole two, Guintoli was happy with his opening pace: “I wasn’t expecting to be at the top of the times today but I’ll definitely take that! We have such a good base with the YZF-R1 even at the start of this project, especially the chassis and engine character, so it’s nice to know we can work up from here. We have spent a lot of the winter evaluating and assessing, and expected to be continuing this for the opening round at Phillip Island. This is my favourite track on the calendar so hopefully we can continue to improve as the weekend progresses and enjoy a good couple of races with the new split two-day schedule starting tomorrow.”
Despite his strong pace today, team-mate Alex Lowes was unable to match his team-mates time as he finished the day 0.960s off the top spot down in 11th on the R1.
Explaining he still isn’t totally comfortable aboard the Japanese machine, Lowes hopes he will be able to find a better pace on Saturday ahead of race one in the afternoon.
The Lincolnshire rider classes Philip Island as one of his favourite tracks and did 39 laps of the circuit this afternoon. Despite setting a lap time of 1.31.825 he was unable to get up into the top ten during one last push, meaning he will have to fight it out in Superpole One in order to try and make it into Superpole Two and top ten on the grid.
“I’m still finding my perfect set-up with the YZF-R1, explains Lowes, “so I wasn’t 100% comfortable out there today but the times are, as always, so close between the top riders. We have a few things we are working on overnight with the lads, and I love this circuit so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Historically I’ve done well in practice here but it hasn’t translated to the race so hopefully this year a careful dress rehearsal will give me a better race day when it matters!”