Laguna Seca SBK | Aprilia’s Guintoli Leads Grid in Opening Practice
2014 Laguna Seca SBK Opening Practice Results
Though he didn’t win last year at Laguna Seca World Superbike, Aprilia Racing Team’s Sylvain Guintoli began the doubleheader in the most optimal position – first. This was after the Frenchman won Superpole, qualifying his RSV4 on the pole.
Guintoli again showed strength Friday at Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway, dominating the first of four 45-minute practices at the 2.238-mile track featuring the famed Corkscrew.
Under slight overcast conditions for FP1 at round nine of the 2014 SBK Championship, Guintoli posted a quickest lap of 1:23.861. To put this time into perspective, the Best Lap for the SBK grid at Laguna Seca is a 1:22.683, which was set by Guintoli last season.
Guintoli finished 0.236 of a second ahead of the reigning WSBK Champion who won race-one at Laguna Seca last season, Kawasaki Racing Team’s Tom Sykes. Third quickest went to the other Aprilia Racing pilot Marco Melandri, who was 0.294 of a second behind.
The Aprilia riders led until 20 minutes remained. Ducati Superbike Team’s Chaz Davies then squeezed between them, only to be ousted by Melandri and then Sykes in the final moments. The Ducati 1199 Panigale pilot would eventually finish fourth, 0.439 of a second back. Last season’s race-two winner, Pata Honda World Superbike’s Jonathan Rea finished fifth quickest, 0.453 of a second behind.
Rounding out the top 10 were Red Devils Roma Aprilia’s Toni Elias, Pata Honda World Superbike’s Leon Haslam, the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki duo of Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes, and Ducati Superbike Team’s Davide Giugliano, respectively. The latter was running in the top four until experiencing some technical issues aboard his 1199 Panigale.
The Brit Leon Camier made his return to the Superbike grid, substituting for the injured Claudio Corti aboard the MV Agusta Reparto Corse F4RR. Camier, who never raced at Laguna Seca, finished 26th overall.
Team Hero EBR had an encouraging start to their home race weekend with Geoff May and Aaron Yates both comfortably inside the provisional top 20.
After qualifying on the front row of the grid last season for the factory Ducati team, Niccolo Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati) was the best classified EVO rider in 12th position overall.
The two American wildcard riders – Larry Pegram (Foremost Insurance EBR) and Chris Ulrich – finished FP1 in 22nd and 23rd, respectively.
Photography by Ara Ashjian