Pata Honda riders enjoy Thailand battle

Sylvain Guintoli took fifth and sixth place finishes in today`s two second-round World Superbike championship races at Buriram in Thailand after a dramatic day for the Pata Honda team.

The 32-year-old French rider had a lonely ride to his second successive fifth place after making a number of changes to his Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP after this morning`s warm-up.

However, a technical issue on the sighting lap for race two at the 4.554km Chang International Circuit forced Guintoli to miss the formation lap and he had to start the race from the back of the grid. After a good start he was able to move through the field, eventually enjoying a thrilling battle with his team-mate Michael van der Mark.

Van der Mark, 22, had his own technical issues which forced his retirement from the first of today`s two 20-lap outings, but the Dutch rider enjoyed more success in race two.

The battle between him and Guintoli for sixth place came down to the final corner with van der Mark attempting a bold manoeuvre around the outside of his team-mate, which forced him outside the track boundaries. Race direction deducted one position dropping him back to seventh.

After the opening two flyaway rounds of the series, the Pata Honda team will now re-group at its Dutch workshop before heading for Spain and round three at Aragon Motorland on 10-12 April.

Sylvain Guintoli – 5th and 6th
In race one I did my best, of course, but we were just too far away from the pace of the front group. I did everything I could, but it turned out to be a bit of a lonely race for fifth. But race two was much more fun, even though we had a small technical problem which meant I had to start last. 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 t wo 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.

Michael van der Mark – DNF and 7th
In race one we had a little technical problem which ended the race for us but unfortunately these things can happen. It was a shame though because at that point in the race I was going faster and faster. In race two I felt really good but the start was not so good. I also made some mistakes in the first couple of laps and ran wide at one point so I had to fight back again. At the end 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.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator
It has not been an easy weekend for the team. We managed to improve Sylvain`s bike a lot after warm-up and he was able to get a lonely fifth which, considering the problems that we have had here in Thailand, was a respectable result. In race two he had to start from last position but he had a great start and fought up to sixth in the end. Michael had a DNF in race one but in race two he spent a long time behind Sylvain. They had a great battle to the finish which saw Michael running off the track a little bit and he was put back one position. But the guys had fun having that battle together. Although the weekend has been quite tough we have managed to close the gap to the competition and Sylvain is still fourth in the championship which we`ll take to Aragon and hopefully do a bit better there.



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