Guintoli takes maiden BSB pole at Brands Hatch
SYLVAIN Guintoli announced his arrival in the UK by stealing pole for the opening round of the Visk.com British Superbike Championship.
But the star of the session was Northumbrian Graeme Gowland who finished eighth quickest in his first ever round on board a Superbike.
Fellow North boys Stuart Easton and James Ellison also had a strong qualifying, finishing the day third and seventh respectively.
GP hero Guintoli has been looking strong throughout the weekend, but proved untouchable in the final part of this afternoon's Swan Combi Roll for Pole, which saw just the fastest top ten of the 29-strong field battle it out for the top spots.
With his hotlap of 45.944 set just three minutes into the 10 minutes shoot-out, it was a time which was to go unbeaten, despite hard charges from nearest rival, Steve Plater, who is filling in on the HM Plant Honda in the absence of Josh Brookes.
"I'm pleased, this is my first time here at Brands Hatch and it was a track I was very much looking forward to visiting, so I am very happy with this result and looking forward to tomorrow," he said.
But the biggest shock of the day was 23-year-old Gowland of Allendale, near Hexham, who outqualified his experienced team-mate Chris Walker to put his Motorpoint/Henderson Yamaha eighth on the grid.
In what was his first ever 1000cc qualifying session, the rookie was quick to get to grips with the fast Indy circuit, and has been consistently in the top ten since first practice on Good Friday.
*Image: Graeme Gowland in action at Brands Hatch, by Fotofuel.
1. Sylvain Guintoli (Worx Crescent Suzuki) 45.944s
2. Steve Plater (HM Plant Honda) +0.121s
3. Stuart Easton (Hydrex Honda) +0.165s
4. Karl Harris (Hydrex Honda) +0.302s
5. Leon Camier (Airwaves Yamaha) +0.315s
6. Glen Richards (HM Plant Honda) +0.334s
7. James Ellison Airwaves Yamaha +0.477s
8. Graeme Gowland (Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha) +0.524s
9. Chris Walker (Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha) +0.531s
10. Jon Kirkham (Jentin Racing Yamaha) +0.686s