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Tyre Gambles sees Guintoli Ninth in Magny-Cours Race Day Roulette

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Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK riders Sylvain Guintoli and Alex Lowes tackled constantly changing weather at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours today as Superpole qualifying and the first race of the Fassi French Round got underway. Guintoli rode his YZF-R1 to ninth place at the flag with Lowes narrowly behind in 11th.

Thunder storms and heavy rain overnight turned the tables at the Nièvre circuit as the final free practice took to the track at 08:45 on Saturday morning. While the rain had abated, the surface remained wet as Guintoli steered the tricky conditions, his familiarity with the local layout aiding his progress as the Frenchman concluded the 15-minute session sixth in the times having highlighted important information for the following qualifying session. Immediately showing a commanding pace for Superpole 2 he consistently lapped at the head of the times, just narrowly missing out on a front row position to line up fourth on the grid for the ensuing race. Declared wet, but with a quickly drying track, Guintoli fell foul of a bad start to the afternoon’s 21-lap battle, dropping to seventh on the opening tour. Settling in sixth at mid-race, he was running strongly on his Yamaha Superbike before he took the decision to pit. With the tyre change complete, the local rider returned to the action in 14th place and showed blistering pace in the closing laps as he made his way back through the pack. Setting a 1’41.813 on his 19th revolution he consistently challenged the front runner’s pace but with the gap too much to bridge in the time remaining he crossed the line in ninth, collecting seven championship points.

Having enjoyed Friday’s dry sessions, Lowes took a cautious approach to this morning’s early track time, circulating at a steady pace as he acquainted himself with the wet track to conclude the final free practice in 14th and holding 11th at the close of the final Superpole shootout. Heading out with his usual determination aboard his YZF-R1 as the race began, Lowes immediately jumped two places on the opening lap before continuing his progression to seventh by lap nine. Choosing to pit for new rubber as his times fell away, the British rider returned to the track in 13th and instantly on the hunt for the top-10. Succeeding in his task just three laps later, Lowes maintained his position for the final seven laps before succumbing to 11th at the flag.

Sunday brings a brighter forecast for the final instalment of the FrenchWorldSBK weekend as Lowes and Guintoli line up at Magny-Cours for race two at 13:00 local time.

Sylvain Guintoli
Race: 9th / +49.455 / 21 laps. Championship: 13th / 83 points

“It was a disappointing race. The feeling with the drying track wasn’t good and I was struggling to follow the leading pack and we also lost a lot of time in the pit-lane when changing tyres. On a positive note the pace at the end of the race was good and I managed to recover some places but not enough as I just ran out of laps. We just didn’t have the pace to be fighting for the front positions today but the weather is going to change tomorrow so hopefully it will be a completely different story. We are starting from fourth which is positive so we will see what happens.”

Alex Lowes
Race: 11th / +52.788 / 21 laps. Championship: 11th / 107 points

“It was a difficult day with the weather overall and with the changeable conditions in this afternoon’s race. I expected to be a lot faster in the dry once we had changed the tyres but unfortunately some issues held me back and I just wasn’t able to ride how I wanted to, or to achieve the pace needed. Hopefully we will improve for tomorrow and, as always, come back fighting.”