Sylvain Guintoli admitted he is on his back foot after a difficult start to the opening World Superbike weekend at Phillip Island. The defending champion missed much of the Jerez test last month after a heavy crash on the opening day and after setting the 12th fastest time in practice today, Guintoli feels he is still playing catch up.
“It was a tough start this morning when we tried something that didn’t work so we had to go back to the base setting. The feeling with the bike this afternoon was a little better but I’m still struggling to get dialled in, so there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re too slow for now and we have to look through all the data to find that last little bit of pace that we need. We’re still a little bit on the back foot after missing the test in Jerez and I’m just not quite dialled in yet. We’re definitely making progress but sometimes it happens straight away and other times you need a bit more time to find your mark.”
His PATA Honda teammate made a much more impressive start with Michael van der Mark climbing to seventh in the afternoon session. The Dutch rookie was particularly encouraged by his pace over a race simulation, setting his best time in conditions that weren’t conducive to fast laps.
“This afternoon we made a really big step because, to be honest, this morning’s first session was a bit of a disappointment. During the test we had some difficulties and we changed the set-up a lot, but we found out this morning that those changes weren’t working. We started this afternoon with some more changes and immediately the feeling was completely different, even though the track conditions were not so good like this morning. In the end I set my fastest time in a long run and the bike is much easier to ride now, especially changes in direction. That’s what we were working for and to be fourth in the second session and seventh overall makes me really happy, but we’ll keep working to improve.”