WSB Assen: Guintoli benefitted by red flags to take race one from Sykes

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Sylvain Guintoli has dominated the opening race of the weekend at Assen, taking his second World Superbike win of the year by a wide margin from Tom Sykes, but with red flags late in the race working to the Frenchman’s favour.

The flags came out after sixteen laps as a precaution, when the EBR machine of Geoff May started to issue white smoke, to Guintoli’s benefit.

“I was trying to keep my rhythm, and I took a lot of risk in the early laps to make the break, because I knew it would be difficult in the end of the race. We struggled in the first race at Aragon with the new early race time, and I need to give a big thanks to the Aprilia guys, because they’ve done a huge job since then.”

Guintoli was able to lead from his second place on the grid off the line, with Sykes in second closing him down. However, a small mistake from the world champion on the still-damp track left him back in fourth with a lot of work to do.

“Sylvain was off like a scalded cat – or a scalded snail I tried in the early part of the race, but caught a little bit of the moist stuff while on the brakes and the back came round, so I had to let it go wide. I was catching him, but passing is another thing anyways, so I’m happy with second.”

Jonathan Rea was third, battling with pole man Loris Baz to maintain his record of podium finishes at the Pata Honda team’s home track.

Tony Elias got the best of Marco Melandri in the race-long battle for fifth, but it was more bad luck for Eugene Laverty as he lost the front and fell while in the group. Chaz Davies was seventh, while the second of the Pata Hondas with Leon Haslam onboard was eighth. Alex Lowes was ninth after a mistake dropped him back, and Niccolo Canepa was tenth and the first Evo bike.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer