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Guintoli holds nerve in Silverstone chaos
5 August 2012 CLICK HERE
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Sylvain Guintoli has taken an excellent victory on his PATA Ducati debut after a crash-strewn Silverstone race forced organisers to throw the red flag at half-distance.
Riding with PATA Ducati for the first time this weekend after parting ways with Effenbert Liberty Ducati, with rain falling from the start, Guintoli surged into the lead from the opening bend and proceeded to hold his nerve out front as the conditions gradually worsened.
Quickly building a huge lead with former team-mate Jakub Smrz in tow, Guintoli and the Czech rider found themselves almost ten seconds ahead of the opposition after just two laps, the rest of the field taking a more cautious approach as the circuit became wetter.
Indeed, with leaden skies forcing a wet race to be declared even before the heavens had opened completely, all riders – save for pit-lane bound Tom Sykes – began on wet tyres.
It would prove a shrewd move as conditions worsened, Guintoli and Smrz initially galloping away up front, albeit with race one winner Loris Baz and Davide Giugliano charging behind them. Indeed, Baz and Giugliano were revelling in the conditions as they took chunks out of the lead advantage, but the latter would see his efforts come to nothing when he crashed out on lap six.
Baz, meanwhile, was still progressing, dispatching of Smrz on eight and setting about attempting to wrest the lead from Guintoli for what could have been an unprecedented double victory.
It was a quest he looked set to achieve when he overtook Guintoli into Copse on lap ten, but his joy appeared to be shortlived when he crashed just moments later through Becketts, promoting Guintoli back into the lead.
As it happens, Baz was not the only rider to come down in a short space of time, with third place Smrz, fourth place Maxime Berger, sixth place Carlos Checa, ninth place Jonathan Rea and 12th place Tom Sykes all crashing within a lap of one another.
With carnage strewn across the circuit, the red flag was dropped on lap ten of 17 and the race declared as over, though it took some time for the results to be confirmed.
In the end, somewhat surprisingly, the race was counted back by two laps, which meant Guintoli would be declared the winner – albeit with half-points awarded -, Baz was allowed to keep second and Smrz was handed back a third place finish.
A remarkable result for Guintoli, who won his first WSBK race for Effenbert Liberty Ducati in similar conditions at Assen earlier this season, victory on his debut outing with his new employers also marks the maiden success for PATA Racing in its current guise.
Despite the abrupt end to his race, second place still marks an astonishing weekend for rookie Baz, who has given Kawasaki a huge boost in the manufacturers' standings as a result of his double podium.
Smrz's reinstatement came at the expense of Eugene Laverty, who looked like he had been awarded a podium finish, but was instead classified in fourth place.
Similarly fortunate to have benefitted from count-back, Berger and Checa was given fifth and sixth place finishes, the former recording his best ever finish in World Superbikes as a result.
With Smrz, Berger and Checa added to the results, Chaz Davies had to settle for seventh instead of fourth, while Marco Melandri was demoted back down to eighth. Even so, having only originally finished one place ahead of key rival Max Biaggi, the revised results would actually drop the Aprilia down to 11th.
As a result, Melandri has shaved another 1.5 points off his lead, reducing the gap to the leader 10.5 points in the overall standings.
Another one to move back up the order, Rea received ninth place, ahead of John Hopkins, Biaggi and Sykes, the latter complaining fluid – not just rain - contributed to his accident at the final turn.
Staying out of trouble, race one podium winner Michel Fabrizio was 13th, while Hiroshi Aoyama and Niccolo Canepa received the final points in 14th and 15th.