After several months recovering from injury and surgery, Sylvain Guintoli has given glimpses of his best form again as he defied predictions to claim the first pole position of the 2014 World Superbike Championship.
Though the Frenchman was a race winner at the Australian venue last season, Guintoli had not been identified as a probable challenge for pole position having maintained a fairly low-key presence in pre-season testing and the race weekend thus far.
Indeed, having not even broken the 1min 31secs benchmark at any point this week, Guintoli's Superpole winning lap time of 1min 30.038secs not only marked a big improvement on his own efforts, but took two tenths from Carlos Checa's erstwhile record.
Furthermore, though Guintoli admits the fast Phillip Island circuit was always destined to be a strong venue for the RSV4, his vastly improved physical condition and 'excellent' race pace is set to make him an even more formidable contender in the race.
“This winter was hard. After 4 months without riding a bike and only a little bit of testing I was concerned about my physical conditions. But my Aprilia worked very well and it is no secret that this is one of our favourite tracks. I really had a lot of fun today.
“It's a shame I couldn't get my time down to 1'29 - that would have been fantastic. The important thing is that we grew and developed throughout the weekend. My shoulder isn't giving me any problems so tomorrow I'll be able to push hard since we've also got an excellent race pace.
“I expect to have two good races. There are a lot of riders with good pace, but I hope to be able to use my RSV4's power to bring home the win.”