Aprilia Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli proved the fastest man on track during the first ever World Superbike qualifying session at Intercity Istanbul Park. The French rider outpaced the second-fastest rider, BMW Motorrad GoldBet’s Marco Melandri, by more than half a second. Guintoli’s teammate, Eugene Laverty, ended the day third fastest.
Guintoli wasted no time establishing himself at the head of the pack, as he topped the morning’s practice session by an even greater margin than in qualifying. Aprilia's title contender led the championship for the greater portion of the season, but has struggled through recent rounds with a shoulder injury sustained during training. He’s not been on the podium since Race 2 at Imola and finally lost the points lead to Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes the last time out at Nurburgring.
“I'm usually one to start off slowly, but today I pushed hard right away because I felt very confident right out of the gate,” said Guintoli. “At the Nurburgring I was close to the front runners but I was still lacking something. Here I want to be strong straight away. There will be two hot races on Sunday in more ways than one and it will be a delicate situation for the tires. The battle for the championship is heated and it is no fluke that the top positions today are held by the main title contenders. We will need to work well in view of the races and grip is the main concern."
Sykes finished fourth-fastest followed by newcomer to the World Superbike stage, Toni Elias of Red Devils Roma, who finished fifth. FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel posted the sixth-fastest time followed by Melandri’s teammate, Chaz Davies, in seventh. Althea Aprilia’s Davide Giugliano took eighth followed by Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam in ninth and newcomer to the Pata team, Michel Fabrizio, in 10th. Fabrizio, formerly of Red Devils Roma, moved to Pata Honda after Jonathan Rea fractured his femur during the round at Nurburgring.
Carlos Checa had a big high-side during the morning practice in Istanbul on Friday, and as a result will be unable to return to competition during the weekend.
Several riders didn’t fare so well at Intercity, however, and a number or crashes resulted in some being unable to continue through the weekend. Ducati Alstare’s Carlos Checa high-sided late in the morning practice and was taken to the Clinica Mobile where, according to team PR, he was diagnosed with “a contusion to the upper thorax as well as a possible fracture of the left scaphoid.”
“I have a lot of pain in the chest area on both the right and left side,” explained Checa. “I’ve also hurt my wrist but as there is already a screw there, resulting from an injury that dates back to 1996, it’s not yet clear whether I’ve now fractured it again or not. I obviously cannot ride in this condition; the doctors have advised me to rest up.”
Checa’s teammate, Ayrton Badovini, went down late in the practice and stretched the ligaments in his left ankle. Due to the heavy swelling of the injury, Badovini did not ride during the qualifying session in the afternoon but he’s expected to be able to return to his bike Saturday.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier, who is still recovering from a big crash at Nurburgring, high-sided during the morning practice as well. The British rider was taken to Clinica Mobile where he was found to have sustained seven fractures in his right foot. The injury will require “an operation to pin some of the breaks” according to FIXI PR.
“The Nurburgring incident was bad enough, but today’s accident on a very green and slippery circuit, when he wasn’t even pushing for any lap-time, has really taken the wind out of the team’s sails,” said FIXI Crescent Suzuki Team Manager Paul Denning. “Leon is basically ok and the injuries are relatively minor, but they will still take some significant time and effort to recover from. He and the team – I genuinely believe – deserve something better, but we can only deal with what is in front of us, be completely positive and move forward.”
MR-Racing’s Max Neukirchner also went down during practice, injuring his right hand. The German rider will be unable to return to competition in Istanbul as a result.
Sykes’ teammate, Loris Baz, had planned on returning to action following his crash at Nurburgring, but doctors were unable to clear the French rider for competition and he’s withdrawn from the round.
World Superbike Istanbul Friday Results 2013:
1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 1’56.190
2. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’56.749
3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’56.949
4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’57.170
5. Toni Elias (Aprilia) 1’57.206
6. Jules Cluzel (Suzuki) 1’57.222
7. Chaz Davies (BMW) 1’57.391
8. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’57.649
9. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1’57.699
10. Michel Fabrizio (Honda) 1’58.340
11. Mark Aitchison (Kawsaki) 1’58.588
12. Federico Sandi (Kawasaki) 1’58.817
13. Vittorio Iannuzzo (BMW) 2’00.944
14. Tolga Uprak (Kawasaki) 2’03.008
15. Yunus Ercelik (BMW) 2’04.231