Any reservations that Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli had about being competitive in the 2016 Motul Superbike World Championship on the new Yamaha have been blown out of the water after he eclipsed the existing lap record in the second practice session at Phillip Island this afternoon.
Guintoli, the 2014 world champion and multiple Phillip Island winner, set a best lap of 1min30.865secs in second practice, below Chaz Davies’ two-year-old circuit benchmark of 1:30.949.
Guintoli and teammate Alex Lowes are spearheading Yamaha’s re-entry into WorldSBK after a four-year absence for the Japanese manufacturer, riding the YZF-R1M which Aussie Josh Brookes dominated the 2015 British superbike title on.
Honda’s Michael van der Mark was second overall today, ahead of crack Kawasaki pair Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, Leon Camier (MV Agusta), Nicky Hayden (Honda), Ducati duo Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies, Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori and German Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad). Lowes was 11th, and the final rider within a second of Guintoli’s benchmark.
Wildcard Mike Jones (Ducati) was the fastest Australian today in 15th position, three spots ahead of Brookes (BMW Motorrad).
Taree’s Josh Hook (Kawasaki) was to be the third local racing, but he has withdrawn from the event with an injured left shoulder and has been replaced by Turkish rider Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Riders will be split into two groups, with the lower 14 competing in Superpole session 1 at 12.30pm. The fastest two riders then progress, joining the top ten from today for the second 15 minute Superpole battle to determine the final grid positions for the two 22-lap WorldSBK races at 3:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Superpole is divided into two sessions: the first one for riders who finished practice in positions 9-18, with the leading two from that session joining the fastest eight riders in the second Superpole hitout.
WorldSBK Superpole starts at 12:30pm tomorrow.
Tickets at the gate from 8am Saturday and Sunday.
For more information www.worldsbk.com.au