Pata Honda riders enjoy Thai scrap

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The Pata Honda duo of reigning world champions Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark left the first ever round of the World Superbike championship in Thailand pleased with their race two battle despite failing to challenge for podium finishes all weekend. Guintoli finished fifth and sixth, while van der Mark was seventh in race two after crashing out of the opener.

It was actually the Dutchman who led his French teammate over the line in the second race, but he was demoted down soon after, after race control judged he had used too much of the asphalt run-off to make a last corner overtake; something he took in his stride.

“I had a good fight with Sylvain and felt I was faster than him but not fast enough to get away. So I decided to stay behind and try to pass him on the final lap. We had a nice and fair fight and even though I crossed the finish line first, they put me one place back because I went outside the track in trying to get past at the final corner. But I enjoyed raced two and I think we have a lot of positives to go back to Europe with for the next round.”

The Frenchman, meanwhile, who was forced to start from the back of the gird after technical problems, says that despite not being at the front there’s a lot of positives to take from the weekend as he continues to recover from injuries sustained in pre-season testing at Jerez.

“I had a great start and a great first two corners but then I got a bit over-excited and braked too late in turn five and lost three places. Finally I had a great battle with my team-mate which was more entertaining. Towards the end of the race I did my best lap time which was probably faster than my qualifying time, and that felt perfect, but it was difficult to be consistent.

“It’s only my second race on the bike and I’m still suffering from the neck injury in these dehydrating conditions. But we’ve now been to two different tracks with different characteristics and we can see that our pace is not as good as our rivals. So that gives us a base to work from and try to improve in key areas. Even though we’re not fighting for wins at the moment we’re still working to find solutions in the team and that will get the results we want.”

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer