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Race Day Preparation Friday’s Focus for Pata Yamaha

Pata Yamaha_042916
Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes got straight down to business at Imola’s Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari today as the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team focused it’s concentration on preparing for the first of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s fifth round races. Having already proved over recent events that their WorldSBK-spec YZF-R1’s have the pace to qualify well, the two Yamaha riders concentrated on long runs and tyre wear management for the majority of Friday’s free practice concluding the two hour-long sessions in eighth and eleventh places respectively.

Confident with his machine’s one-lap pace, after his consecutive front row qualifying performances at Aragon and Assen, Guintoli turned his attention to strategy and management for the opening sessions at the iconic Italian track. Notorious as one of the most technical on the WorldSBK calendar, the 4,936m undulating layout provided the perfect challenge to fine-tune his YZF-R1’s set-up. Leaving his fast runs until the closing stages of this afternoon’s free practice, the Frenchman unfortunately fell at the final chicane, failing to complete his best lap of the day and convert his projected P4 position. His earlier 1’48.342 time, however, remained enough to secure his top-ten classification and promotion into Saturday’s Superpole 2 ahead of the 19-lap race at 13:00 local time.

Lowes concluded his first two free practice sessions at Imola narrowly missing out on automatic Superpole qualification by just 0.081 seconds. The British rider also spent Friday working through a detailed development programme, his consecutive set of fastest times coming early in the afternoon session. Missing out on a 1’48.0 best due to narrowly cutting the final chicane, Lowes’ 1’48.600 lap, recorded on his third revolution, puts the 25-year-old in 11th place in the combined times and joining the early qualifying battle at 10:30 local time tomorrow morning.

Sylvain Guintoli
8th / 1’48.342 / 32 laps

“A small crash in my fastest lap at the end of the session was disappointing but we are still firmly in the top ten for Superpole tomorrow so this is a positive. We have been continuing to work on the race development for the majority of today as this is the main area we still need to improve. We will keep working tomorrow but, for me, I just need to get my head down, push hard and let the technicians do their job! The solutions we are looking for are very difficult to pinpoint but I have confidence that we will get there.”

Alex Lowes
11th / 1’48.600 / 34 laps

“A difficult day for us to be honest, I love this track but everything has to be working in harmony to allow us to chip away and find the best rhythm and that was quite difficult today. I had a small crash at the end of the morning session which didn’t help but my main focus was to improve the performance on worn tyres. I felt quite good this afternoon until we reached about eight or nine laps and then we started to struggle a bit. We could do with another Friday to improve further before the first race really but I’m positive that the team, and myself, can make a decent step tomorrow morning and we will keep pushing for where we know we should be.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal

“After the inconsistent weather at Assen and knowing the very technical character of the Imola Circuit we expected day one to be challenging here for the WorldSBK-specification YZF-R1 and so it has proved. We didn’t see the potential best lap of either rider with Alex’s best of a high ’47 being cancelled due to a very small infringement at the last chicane and Sylvain crashing at the same corner when he was on schedule for third or fourth position. So, as we have seen at recent events, the ultimate lap time for both riders is there, but on both sides of the garage we are still searching for consistency on used tyres and to avoid a big lap-time drop once the grip reduces. There is very little time to prepare tomorrow before the first race but everybody is committed to making big improvements overnight.”