Effenbert-Liberty shine on Superpole debut

Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrz set up the possiblity of a strong result on Effenbert Liberty Ducati's debut after they qualify third and sixth.
Effenbert-Liberty will start its first World Superbike Championship race from the front row of the grid after Sylvain Guintoli placed the Ducati in third position at Phillip Island.

Belying its lack of experience at this level, the Czech team carried its strong winter testing form through to the opening round as both Guintoli and team-mate Jakub Smrz cruised into the final Superpole session.

In the hands of Guintoli, the distinctively-branded 1098R would end Superpole in third position, the Frenchman – who scored the fastest race lap on a Suzuki in 2010 – four tenths adrift of pole-sitting Ducati counterpart Carlos Checa.

With Guintoli well placed to challenge for that elusive WSBK podium finish, he is thrilled with the progress the team has made in such a short space of time.

“This is one of my best and favourite tracks, but more than this I think I'm just gelling well with the Ducati and enjoying riding this bike so much.

“Here really was the first time I got to ride it, without needing some tyres for the bad weather we had during testing. It's been such bad weather testing but now I'm enjoying things. A great result for the team on its debut.”

Team-mate Smrz, meanwhile, will start in sixth position after an eventful session that saw him crash in SP2, necessitating a rush back to the pit lane to jump on the spare bike.

“We can consider ourselves happy, but it certainly could go a bit better,” he said. “Since yesterday we have concentrated on the set-up of the bike for the races and to obtain consistent results.

“I entered the Superpole 2 without pushing too much. Unfortunately, during this session I made a little mistake that made me lose grip on the front, causing a crash, but fortunately I was able to return to the box in time to get on the second bike, with which, despite the problems we had, I have managed to qualify for the final round.

“In SP3 I think I achieved a good result because I did not have the qualify tyres available anymore due to the crash. In any case, we have found the right set-up for the race and I see the races with optimism.”

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February 26, 2011 4:59 PM

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