Photography by Gold & Goose
MONTEREY, CA, JULY 11 – The opening session of World Superbike practice at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was a back and forth affair ith Marco Melandri, Chaz Davies and Sylvain Guintoli taking turns at topping the timesheets. When all was said and done, however, it was the man who led early leading again at the end with Guintoli posting the best lap of the session, a 1:23.861 on his factory Aprilia.
The man who came closest to matching the Frenchman wasn’t one of those who ever led the session – championship leader Tom Sykes. Sykes ended up .236 of a second behind Guintoli, whose best lap was the only one in the 1:23s and just .154 of a second off the best World Superbike lap record of a year ago set by Davide Giugliano at 1:23.707.
Melandri ended up third on the second factory Aprilia, the Italian taking over at the top with some 16 minutes to go in the session but ultimately getting bumped down the order by Guintoli and Sykes, the winner of race one last year at Laguna. Melandri was just .294 of a second off Guintoli. Davies, the other rider to lead the session at one point, ended up fourth on the factory Ducati with a best lap of 1:24.300.
Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea missed last year’s World Superbike round at Laguna Seca with a broken leg, but he’s adapting quickly to the circuit on the Monterey Peninsula and he ended up an impressive fifth in the first session. Toni Elias was sixth on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia with Rea’s teammate Leon Haslam seventh.
The first of the two Suzukis was eighth with last year’s race two winner Eugene Laverty ending up one spot better than this teammate Alex Lowes, the young Brit making his Laguna debut today.
Giugliano ended up 10th best, the Italian’s session ruined by a mechanical problem on the factory Ducati.
Free Practice 1
1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1:23.861
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1:24.097
3. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) 1:24.155
4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 1:24.300
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:24.314
6. Toni Elias (Aprilia) 1:24.402
7. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:24.410
8. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) 1:24.703
9. Alex Lowes (Suzuki) 1:24.906
10. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1:24.261