Aprilias Rule Phillip Island Opener

Cycle News Staff | February 24, 2013
Eugene Laverty  58  and Sylvain Guintoli  50  split wins at the opening round of World Superbike at Phillip Island.  Photography By: Gold   Goose.

Photography By: Gold & Goose

After a weekend of complete Aprilia domination at the opening round of the World Superbike Championship on Phillip Island, factory men Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli are tied atop the World Championship point standings after the teammates split wins and second-place finishes in Australia on Sunday.

It as a good day to be on an Aprilia RSV4 at the seaside circuit with the Italian brand not only winning both legs of the opening round, but sweeping the podium in the first of the two races with Michel Fabrizio joining the two factory men on the podium on his Red Devil Roma Aprilia.

The one-two-three finish in race one was the second time Aprilia had accomplished this feat with the brand last doing it at the Nurburgring in Germany last year.

Guintoli won the first race over Laverty to earn the fourth win of his World Superbike career, but it was Laverty who led early. Guintoli, however, caught and passed the Irishman on the 15th lap and led the rest of the race.

“It’s great to start off with a win,” Guintoli said. “Quite honestly, after the tests I know I could do well and from the start my intention was to give it my all. My goal has always been to win, but sometimes you have to adapt to conditions. In the first race I didn’t get off to a good start and I lost a few positions, but lap-by-lap I found the right pace to move forward. Eugene [Laverty] had gotten away well and when I overtook him I managed to keep the distance and take this important win.”

Laverty had his hands full with Fabrizio after losing Guintoli, but he made a pass on the Italian at Lukey Heights on the last lap. Fabrizio held on for third with new BMW man Chaz Davies ending up fourth after a hard scrap with Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes – topping him by just .051 of a second. Sykes’s teammate Loris Baz was next across the line in sixth.

Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam ended up seventh in his debut with the team – one spot better than teammate Jonathan Rea.

Team Ducati Alstare’s Carlos Checa had a day to forget, the Spaniard running into BMW’s Marco Melandri on the 13th lap and taking them both out of the race. Checa wouldn’t start race two after suffering a concussion.

Laverty saved his best for the latter part of race two, taking second place from Melandri on the 20th lap before disposing of Guintoli with a new lap record on the same lap. Guintoli ended up second with Melandri rebounding from his race-one crash to finish third.

“We got off on the right foot all the work from the past few days has paid off,” Laverty said. “My Aprilia was fast and it performed as I wanted it to from the first to the last lap. In race one I may have been a bit too conservative with the tires, still taking a nice second place, but in race two I pushed a bit more decisively. At the end when it was Sylvain, Melandri and me; I tried and was able to get away, shaving a few more tenths off my pace. The track record two laps from the finish was nice confirmation that we turned up to the races in the best possible conditions – 45 points after the first race are some nice spoils.”

Fabrizio worked hard to catch the leaders, but ran wide on the final lap while trying to pass Melandri for third. Still, he was able to hold on to fourth. Sykes finished fifth on the factory Kawasaki, the big Brit still not up to par physically after suffering injury in a testing crash last week.

Althea Aprilia’s Davide Giugliano ended up sixth ahead of Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel and Rea.

After the first two races, Laverty and Guintoli are tied with 45 points apiece. Fabrizio is third in the title chase with 29 – seven better than Sykes.

Race One
1.                  Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia)
2.                  Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
3.                  Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia)
4.                  Chaz Davies (BMW)
5.                  Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
6.                  Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
7.                  Leon Haslam (Honda)
8.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda)
9.                  Leon Camier (Suzuki)
10.                  Max Neukirchner (Ducati)

Race Two
1.                  Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
2.                  Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia)
3.                  Marco Melandri (BMW)
4.                  Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia)
5.                  Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
6.                  Davide Giugliano (Aprilia)
7.                  Jules Cluzel (Suzuki)
8.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda)
9.                  Leon Camier (Suzuki)
10.                  Leon Haslam (Honda)