Yamaha’s official return to the World Superbike Championship began in the most optimal way Friday during free practice at Phillip Island in Australia.The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK YZF-R1 earned the provision pole with the 2014 WSBK Champion at the the controls. Guintoli, who also led the preseason World SBK Test in Australia, was quick throughout both hour-long free practice sessions. The Frenchman finished second in Free Practice 1 behind Kawasaki Racing Team’s Tom Sykes.
But in the second free practice, Guintoli was able to post the best time of 1:30.865, which was 0.384 of a second ahead of Honda World Superbike Team’s Michael van der Mark. Third fastest was Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea, the reigning champion.Sylvain Guintoli says “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 favorite 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.”The top 11 riders all posted within a second of Guintoli, with all eight manufacturers represented. Sykes finished fourth fastest (- 0.498), followed by MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Leon Camier (0-5.80); the sole American in the series, Honda World Superike’s Nicky Hayden (-0.610); Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Davide Giugliano (-0.662); Aruba.it Racing Ducati’s Chaz Davies (-0.728); IodaRacing Team Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savardori (-0.860); Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK’s Alex Lowes (-0.960); and Althea BMW’s Markus Reiterberger (-0.968).As per World SBK’s new practice schedule, the top 20 fastest riders in Friday’s second free practice automatically qualify for Saturday’s two 15-minute Superpole sessions. Race one follows on Saturday at 3 p.m. local time, and race 2 on Sunday also at 3 p.m.
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!