File photo by Gold & Goose
Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli opened the World Superbike debut in Turkey as the fastest rider in Friday’s qualifying session. The Frenchman, who is second in the standings, just one point out of the lead, clocked a 1:56.190 late in the session to top the leaderboard. Being over a half-second faster than anyone else on Friday, it’s obvious Guintoli is looking to regain the championship lead this weekend.
Second on the day was BMW ace Marco Melandri. Of the riders in the field Melandri has perhaps the most experience at the 3.3-mile Istanbul Park circuit. He won a pair of MotoGP races here in 2005 and 2006. Melandri turned in a lap at 1:56.749.
A double podium last time out at the Nürburgring has hauled Melandri back into third in the series and into contention for the overall crown. It was a welcome return to form after his struggles at Silverstone, where he claimed two ninth-place finishes.
Next up in provisional qualifying is the second factory Aprilia rider Eugene Laverty with a time of 1:56.749. Laverty is still very much in the championship chase, but he’ll need to have a series of strong finishes as the series enters the home stretch.
Perhaps it was a mild surprise that championship leader Tom Sykes only managed the fourth best time in Friday’s qualifying session. The Kawasaki ace has been consistently the fastest qualifier throughout the season.
Chaz Davies was seventh fastest Friday in Turkey. The former AMA road race competitor was boosted by his fourth eni FIM Superbike World Championship race win in Germany. The Welshman had not stood on the top step of the podium since his double win at Aragon back in April, and the result moved him up to fifth in the standings.
“We definitely made a step in the right direction at the Nürburgring,” Davies said. “I felt that my RR was a little bit better in certain areas of the track. It was still hard to brake, but I tried all I could do to build a bit of a gap. The last couple of laps, I just put my head down seeing if I could just get away from the guys fighting with me. In the end the red flag came, and I was in right place at the right time. A big thank you to my team – they did a great job.”
Missing this race is Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea. The Irishman broke his leg in a big crash in the last round in Germany and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Kawasaki’s Loris Baz was also injured in the last round and was hoping to make this race, but a last-minute x-ray revealed further damage to his back so he elected to sit out to have further consultation with his doctors.
Istanbul Park - FIM Superbike World Championship - Qualifying 1
1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'56.190
2. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'56.749
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'56.949
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'57.170
5. Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'57.206
6. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1'57.222
7. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1'57.391
8. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1'57.649
9. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'57.699
10. Michel Fabrizio (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1'58.340
11. Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'58.588
12. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1'58.817
13. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 2'00.944
14. Tolga Uprak (CMS-Eypbike Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 2'03.008
15. Yunus Ercelik (Sampiyon 169 Team) BMW S1000 RR 2'04.231