Press Release from Pata Yamaha: Sylvain Guintoli concluded his season with the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team, and Yamaha’s returning year in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, with an almost fairy-tale ending, closing in on second position at the mid-point of Losail International Circuit’s final race. However, a red flag on the eighth lap meant it wasn’t to be and a hard-fought fourth position in the 10-lap restart proved to be his swansong. An equally dramatic turn of events left Alex Lowes fighting from the back of the grid to claim a top-10 finish in the evening’s restarted second race.
Rapid from the off, Guintoli looked to be easily on for a double podium as the last race of the year got underway. Running third from the first lap, an early tussle first with Tom Sykes and then Xavi Fores was soon put to rest as he confidently got into a smooth rhythm. Picking up the pace as he broke the chasing pack and headed for second he was untimely stopped by the red flag, as a competitor’s machine left oil on the track. A clean-up operation and quick restart procedure was engaged shortly after and the race was reduced to a 10-lap dash.
A disappointing restart saw Guintoli fighting from fifth place on the opening lap, with the newly-crowned Champion Jonathan Rea dropping him to sixth a few corners later as his pace on new rubber failed to match that of his earlier effort. Regrouping, the Frenchman continued his charge, launching to fourth after as many laps and hunting for the trio ahead. With time in the sprint race quickly running out, he was ultimately unable to bridge the gap needed to remount the podium. Consolidating fourth at the flag to round out his most successful weekend of the season, Guintoli finishes 11th in the WorldSBK Championship on 141 points, having completed 15 of the 26 races.
Caught out by an uncharacteristically bad start, Lowes found himself trapped in the first turn mix as the race began, coming together in a three-rider clash and running far off the circuit. Managing to remain on his YZF-R1 and return to the action, the British rider found himself at the back of the pack, in 24th, and with a mountain to climb as the race unfolded. Pushing himself and his Yamaha he regained five places before the red flag came out, sitting him 19th on the grid for the second attempt.
Renewed by the restart, Lowes jumped four positions as the condensed contest began, continuing to climb a further three places in the next revolution before settling into a rhythm and catching the main group. Promoting himself to 11th on lap seven, Lowes had the top-10 firmly in his sights, achieving the move on the final lap to take a well-earned six points, bringing his total to 131 and sitting him 12th in the final standings.
2016 may have drawn to a close but there is little time to reflect as the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team returns to Europe. Preparations are already underway for the closely-following 2017 season with two winter tests planned for the coming-weeks ahead of the season opener at Australia’s Phillip Island in mid-February.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team would like to thank Sylvain for his hard work, dedication and professionalism in assisting the development of the YZF-R1 throughout its returning year to the WorldSBK Championship. This weekend has provided the perfect reward for these efforts and everyone at Crescent and Yamaha wish him all the best in his future racing career.