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Sylvain Guintoli and Taylor Mackenzie will both start tomorrow's opening MCE British Superbike race at Knockhill from the third row of the grid, the Bennetts Suzuki pairing starting seventh and ninth respectively on their 2017 GSX-R1000s.
Guintoli spent the first free practice sessions getting to grips with the technical Knockhill circuit, in what is his first visit to the Scottish track. In today's shortened qualifying session, which was delayed due to issues of track contamination, he was sitting in sixth place and looking at a second-row start, before he was bumped back to seventh in the final seconds.
However, it is the Frenchman's best qualifying of the season and he is confident of further improving his pace and position in tomorrow's races.
Mackenzie will start ninth, after setting a best lap-time just over a tenth slower than his team-mate, and is hopeful of two good results from tomorrow's races, as the team continues to make progress with the new GSX-R1000.
"Knockhill's a very British track, but I am enjoying it a lot. I'm still learning it as there are a lot of blind corners and changes in elevation, but it's also our best qualifying of the season, so it shows that we've made good progress with the bike. I'm only two-tenths off pole and we're the most competitive we have been, and we're still improving and trying to make the bike better. I think we can have two good races tomorrow."
"We're having a much better weekend. Right from the first session I've felt really good and the bike's working really well. We've made a big step, in all areas really, and it's the first time I feel like I can really push as hard as I want to. The procedure on my arms has made everything better as well, I didn't realise before how much I was holding on, but I come in now after each session feeling like I should. It's a massive improvement across the board really, and ninth is my best-ever Superbike qualifying. Two solid top-10s tomorrow would be really good, it's tough at the front, but we're much stronger than we ever have been than I think we can do more if we get a good start and get away."
Steve Hicken - Team Manager:
"Much better this weekend. We had a difficult start to the season but we've been working hard, and we've made a big step with the bike since Oulton. It's our best qualifying of the season, and we have to remember that Sylvain's not been here before; while Knockhill's short, it's quite difficult to learn. It's competitive out there but hopefully, with Sylvain still learning and the bike always improving, we can get away with the front group and have two good races.
"Taylor's having a good weekend too. We've really improved things on his side of the garage, and he's learning more-and-more all the time about the bike and the electronics. Two top-10 finishes for him would be great after the inconsistent start to the year, but I think there's definitely the potential there for more."
Superbike qualifying result: 1. Luke Mossey, 2. Jake Dixon, 3. James Ellison, 7. Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000), 9. Taylor Mackenzie (Bennetts Suzuki GSX-R1000).
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