Saturday, February 22


WITH time running out, Frenchman Sulvain Guintoli snatched pole position from Italian Davide Giugliano for the opening round of the eni Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island.

Giugliano had already beaten former Ducati rider Carlos Checa's pole position record of 1m 30.234s with a 1m 30.135s effort on the factory Ducati 1199 Panigale when Guintoli ripped that up to stop the clocks at 1m 30.038s as time ran out.
Sylvain Guintoli prepares for his pole position assault.

As a result, Guintoli, who qualified sixth fastest at the Island last year with a 1m 30.683s and scored 1-2 finishes in the two races, lines up on pole for Sunday's races.

Aprilia team-mate Marco Melandri, who crashed in the third 'free' practice session, had staked his claim for pole with a 1m 30.332s effort moments before Giugliano eclipsed that, and then Guintoli bumped him to third on the grid with his record-setting lap.

So, for the first race of the eni Superbike World Championship, with have the two factory Aprilia V4s sandwiching the factory 1200cc Ducati V-twin on the front row of the grid.

Suzuki men Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes were on the pace once again, with Laverty grabbing fourth grid spot at 1m 30.385s while Lowes clicked off a 1m 30.421s effort for fifth grid spot.

Alex Lowes (22) was beaten by Suzuki team-mate Eugene to
fourth position on the grid. 
Starting outside the two Suzukis is Pata Honda's Jonathan Rea (1m 30.660s).

Kawasaki's Loris Baz, team-mate Tom Sykes and Pata Honda's Leon Haslam make up the third row.

Sykes was preparing for an assault on pole when he crashed with three minutes remaining.

Sykes was on a hot lap when he crashed at Lukey Heights – certainly not the first ride 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.
Niccolo Canepa on his way to tenth on the grid on the EVO version of the Ducati 1199 Panigale, beating the factory Superbike of Chaz Davies. 

After a crash in final practice, Australia’s Glenn Allerton (BMW) didn’t make it out into Superpole and will start from 19th on the grid, and his compatriot Matt Walters (Kawasaki) will kickstart his world championship debut from 21st. 

“I am happy to be on the bike and back on the pace,” said Guintoli as he wiped the sweat from his face afterwards.  “The off-season was a nightmare with my injured shoulder – I was off the bike for four months -- 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 circuit is one of my favourites, but a lot of riders are on the pace.   Hopefully the power of the RSV4 Factory will get me through.”

There's no question the Aprilia V4 has that - Guintoli and Melandri regularly straffed through the speed trap up to 12 km/h faster than any of their rivals, with a best of 319.5 km/h recorded by Melandri.

In contrast, the Suzuki, Honda and Kawasaki fours were clocking between 305 and 308 km/h.

Marco Melandri thought he had done it but ended up third fastest on the second of the factory V4 Aprilias.
Final Qualifying times here