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For all things motorcycling

2016 WorldSBK Australia - Phillip Island

Race 1

An exciting and closely-fought first MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race of the season at the Australian Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit saw Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK rider Sylvain Guintoli cross the line in sixth place, as he narrowly missed out in the determined fight for fifth with a photo-finish at the chequered flag. Alex Lowes was running an equally strong race, matching his teammate in pace and position, before a turn two crash put paid to his debut on the YZF-R1.

A new schedule for the WorldSBK Championship saw Guintoli and Lowes arrive at Phillip Island for their opening race day of 2016 without knowing where they would be starting the contest. The morning began with 15 minutes of free practice, allowing the riders to warm up their Yamaha YZF-R1s, before the important action of Superpole qualifying took to the 4,445m Australian circuit. His 11th place classification from Friday's track-time saw Lowes take his place in Superpole 1, easily securing his promotion to Superpole 2 with a spectacular 1'30.9 lap set on race rubber in the early stages of the 15 minute session. Joined by his teammate Guintoli for Superpole 2, both Pata Yamaha riders set about the task of competing in the top-12 shootout and with five minutes gone, they sat in second and third positions with times matching those of their previous, weekend's best. As the field returned to the track on qualifying tyres the times began to tumble, a 1'30.281 and 1'30.354 respectively granting the French and British rider fourth and fifth on the grid.

Heading up the second row for the debut race of 2016, the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team started the 22-lap battle strongly with Lowes firmly in the front group for the initial laps. Mid-race saw both Yamaha riders prevented from utilising their pace as effectively as they would have liked. Taking the opportunity to pass one rider with eight laps to go, first Guintoli then Lowes looked to exploit the free air but unfortunately for the latter it was short lived - an issue at turn two resulting in a trip through the gravel.

Guintoli's sixth place finish leaves the 33-year-old with 10 Championship points and sitting sixth in the table heading into the second day of competition, with Lowes looking to secure a strong points-scoring finish from Sunday's race.

Race 2

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team's Sylvain Guintoli finished his opening weekend in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship less than three seconds from the win with a fifth place finish in Sunday's race at Australia's Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Teammate Alex Lowes concluded a tough debut weekend to bring his YZF-R1 home in the points despite very challenging circumstances.

A solid start saw Guintoli circulating with consistent pace, holding seventh and maintaining contact behind the front group for the race's first half. His ability to preserve the tyre life on his YZF-R1 allowed the Frenchman to pick up the pace with eight laps to go, diving up the inside of Davide Giugliano and Tom Sykes to take fifth on the 15th lap. Holding firm on the rear wheel of Nicky Hayden for the ensuing laps he consolidated the position at the line, collecting a further eleven points to place him fifth in the standings after the opening round of the 2016 championship.

Due to a crash in morning warm up, Lowes was forced to use his spare YZF-R1 for the main event. A strong start placed the British rider in fourth place during the first lap. However, a small technical issue with the untested machine prevented him from realising the potential shown throughout the latter part of the weekend. Running wide at the approach to Lukey Heights, Lowes dropped back to 21st by the close of the first lap but immediately began his fight back. A professional performance saw him regain seven places by quarter distance but with the gap too great to dent further he concluded the weekend with a 14th place finish, collecting two championship points.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will now evaluate the data and experience gained from its debut race weekend as it prepares for the second round, at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand in just two weeks' time. 

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