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WSBK 2013 Round 1: Phillip Island Review. Guintoli Puts Up A Show.

After 140 day of waiting it’s back.  The 2.7 mile Phillip Island circuit plays host to the first round of the 2013 World Superbike championship.

Qualifying took place on Saturday. The fastest 15 riders headed out on track in SP1 (Super Pole), they were soon whittled down to 12 in SP2. The final 9 riders took to the track in SP3 battling it out for the pole position.

Third position went to Michel Fabrizio. Fabrizio has produced some strong results in the past, especially when he rode for the factory Ducati team in 2009 and 2010.  Over the past few seasons he has not been as competitive or consistent. It is nice to see the Italian back on form.

Second position went to Eugene Laverty on the Aprilia RSV4.

Pole position goes to Carlos Checa on the Ducati. The charming Spaniard proved that the 1199 Panigale may be new, but it is already competitive in the hands of the new Alstare team, run by the formidable Francis Batta. Should we be surprised with this result, probably not?

Race 1 took place under a beautiful clear blue sky. For the first time this year the engines growled and screamed and the lights went out. Checa wheelies the Ducati off the line which put him back to 4th position, Laverty led in to turn one with Sykes and Melandri sat only inches behind him.  Melandri and Checa fight for track position over the first half a lap, Checa makes a move on Melandri going in to Luky Heights and he makes it stick. As soon as they get to the start and finish straight Melandri goes passed him on his BMW S1000RR.

Over the next few laps positions change, Tom Sykes finds himself making his way back through the field. Meanwhile Checa and his Ducati make progress. Laps count down and Laverty continues to control the race with over a second lead. Behind him positions change and soon Guintoli is in second place with Melandri in third, both inching closer to the Irishman.  Checa in fourth position breaks late going in to the Honda Hairpin on lap 13, the back of the bike starts snaking and he clips the back of the BMW of Melandri.  Both riders go down.  It was later confirmed that Checa, the 2011 World Superbike champion was taken to Melbourne Hospital and he would not take any further part in the weekend.

Meanwhile Guintoli made his way up to Lavertys back wheel, on lap 15 Guintoli took the lead. Over the next few laps Fabrizio reeled in Laverty and they were riding wheel to wheel. With 2 laps to go Fabizio took second place.  On the last lap Laverty overtook Fabrizio, they both raced to the line, as they crossed the finish line Laverty beat Fabrizio by only 0.007 of a second. What a race.

Silvan Guintoli won the race on his debut as a factory Aprillia rider. It was also his first dry race win in World Superbikes.  Have Aprilia found the perfect replacement for the retired Max Biaggi?

Race one results:

01 – Guintoli                 Aprillia

02 – Laverty                  Aprillia

03 – Fabrizio                 Aprillia

04 – Davies                   BMW

05 – Sykes                    Kawasaki

06 – Baz                        Kawasaki

07 – Haslam                  Honda

08 – Rea                        Honda

09 – Camier                  Suzuki

10 – Neukirchner          Ducati

 

Race 2 had a revised grid, all of the racers move up a position following Checa’s absence.  Laverty started the race from Pole position.

The lights go out and the bikes hurtle to Doohan corner. Tom Sykes takes the lead followed closely by Melandri and Lavety.  Within 3 corners Guintoli takes second place. On lap 3 Laverty leads Guintoli, Sykes and Melandri. On lap 4 Guintoli takes the lead from Laverty.  Over the next few laps the bikes are formation flying, lots of beautiful and stunning moves but no change at the top.

Melandri lunges past Laverty on lap 16. With 3 laps to go Laverty takes second palace back from Melandri at the Honda hairpin.  With 2 laps to go Laverty passes Guintoli for the lead.  Laverty leads, Guintoli in second and Melandri third across the line.

Race two results:

01 – Laverty                  Aprillia

02 – Guintoli                 Aprillia

03 – Melandri                BMW

04 – Fabrizio                 Aprillia

05 – Sykes                    Kawasaki

06 – Giugliano              Aprillia

07 – Cluzel                    Susuki

08 – Rea                        Honda

09 – Camier                  Suzuki

10 – Haslam                  Honda

By Alexander Baylis - SuperBike Correspondant for RTR Sports Marketing
In the pictures:  Guintoli, Melandri, Checa
Pictures form the web

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