Sylvain Guintoli (second from left) of Aprilia Racing Team at the paddock while waiting for his superbike to be ready during free practice of the FIM Superbike World Championships at the Sepang Circuit on Saturday. IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The Star.
SEPANG: Frenchman Slyvain Guintoli beat the scorching heat at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) to claim his second FIM Superbike World Championship pole position for the season.
Guintoli, who is fourth in the championship with 148 points, continued his fine run at the Sepang track astride his Aprilia RSV4 to clock the fastest time of 2:03.002 on Saturday.
Britain’s reigning world champion Tom Sykes, who tops the standings with 185 points, was second fastest in 2:03.108 on a Kawasaki while Italy’s Davide Giugliano was third fastest in 2:03.137 riding a Ducati.
“We had a really good session ... credit to the team for their excellent work today,” said Guintoli, who also started from pole at the season-opener at Phillip Island, Australia, in February.
“I really enjoyed the track here ... not only that, I’m enjoying the country as well. We are having a good time here so far.”
Guintoli could have started from second on the grid as compatriot Loris Baz looked set to break the 2:03 barrier in the dying seconds of the qualifying session. However, Baz crashed at the final hairpin turn and settled for sixth spot on the grid with a time of 2:04.343.
Defending champion Sykes was pleased with the qualifying results although he did not get pole position. He views is as a tremendous improvement from his third row start at the last round in Donington Park, Britain, last month.