Guintoli wins while Checa crashes out
SYLVAIN Guintoli announced his arrival in the Aprilia Racing Team by winning the first race of the 2013 World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island.
The UK-based Frenchman led an Aprilia 1-2-3 over the line in today's opening race from the Australian track, with team-mate Eugene Laverty beating the Red Devils Roma Aprilia of Michel Fabrizio in a photo-finish for second.
But the race was marred by a heavy crash involving polesitter Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri on Lap 13. The Spaniard is believed to have been knocked unconscious and latest reports say he has been taken to Melbourne Hospital for further checks.
At the green light it was Laverty who got the best start, leading the pack into the opening corner as Checa dropped backwards and found himself jostling for position with Melandri's GoldBet BMW and the PATA Honda of Leon Haslam.
Laverty set about edging himself a bit of a gap over the first few laps while behind most of the pack were swapping spots.
He led the Tom Sykes until Lap Six when the battling Checa, Haslam and Guintoli all caught and passed the Kawasaki with another battle between BMW team-mates Melandri and Chaz Davies and Loris Baz heating up close behind.
Checa had settled himself into second place, but by the ninth lap he was under pressure from a flying Guintoli, who made the move a lap later.
Behind, Melandri was on a charge, moving passed Haslam into fourth on Lap 12, and passing Checa at the start of Lap 13.
But moments later Checa's Alstare Ducati clipped the rear of Melandri's BMW as the pair headed into Honda Corner, sending them both crashing out.
Up at the front, Guintoli was right on the back of Laverty, making the inevitable move a lap later. The departure of Checa and Melandri had played particularly well into the hands of Fabrizio, who had been flying up the order and soon found himself in third.
As Guintoli cleared-off into the distance, the final battle was to be between Laverty and Fabrizio. The pair traded places for a couple of laps, leading to a last lap scrap.
It was Fabrizio who had the place as they started their final lap, but Laverty was close behind. Laverty made a move and took the spot back, leaving Fabrizio with nothing left but to try a pass over the line, resulting in a near photo-finish which was won by Laverty.
A delighted Guintoli took the win, and said it was the perfect way to start a season with a new team. "I feel great, this is my first in full dry conditions which for me is very important," he said.
"This bike is so fast around here, it's incredible. I really enjoyed it. I had a terrible start but then picked it up and it was really good. I'm going to do it again in the second race."
FIM World Superbike Championship Phillip Island Race One result:
1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 33'47.109
2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 33'48.461
3. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 33'48.468
4. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 33'52.811
5. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 33'52.862
6. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 33'53.878
7. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 33'53.939
8. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 34'05.053
9. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 34'06.261
10. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati Panigale 1199 34'13.666
11. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 34'17.414
12. Ivan Clementi (HTM Racing) BMW S1000 RR 34'17.520
13. Alexander Lundh (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 34'32.294
14. Glen Allerton (Next Gen Motorsports) BMW S1000 RR 34'35.741
15. Jamie Stauffer (Team Honda Racing) Honda CBR1000RR 34'40.562
16. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 35'09.839
17. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 35'20.483
RT. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati Panigale 1199 18'28.459
RT. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 18'28.468
RT. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 3'10.979