Sylvain Guintoli has described as 'encouraging' a three-day test session with Crescent Suzuki as he prepares to embark upon his maiden campaign in the British Superbike Championship in 2009 – and he is clearly determined to live up to his billing as one of the pre-season favourites.
The Frenchman has made the move to BSB from MotoGP, where he registered a best result of sixth place in the premier class from two seasons spent with firstly Tech 3 Yamaha and then Alice Ducati in 2007 and 2008 respectively, notching up a not-unrespectable tally of 117 points along the way.
Having been forced to battle against high winds in the previous, truncated test at Calafat, Guintoli and Crescent Suzuki returned to the track at Almeria this week, the 26-year-old completing 171 laps of the southern Spanish circuit as he worked on further honing the set-up of the all-new GSX-R1000 in addition to trialling new factory components.
Though windy conditions again hampered the first two days of testing, Guintoli professed himself content with progress after focussing his efforts on practice starts and clutch settings, before moving on to race set-ups on the final day. He will resume testing at Guadix, again in Spain, on Monday (9 March).
“It's been another encouraging test this week,” he underlined. “Coming away from Calafat with a good base setting has allowed us to push on and test some of the new factory parts.
“The new K9 chassis certainly offers more rear-end grip over the 2008 bike I rode in the test last year and this, combined with the new engine spec that we've been running, is bringing together a really great package. The only element I need to get used to and exploit is the flex of the Superbike, compared to the stiffer MotoGP bikes I've ridden in the past.”
“We've had a really positive test here at Almeria,” added a buoyed Crescent Suzuki team manager Jack Valentine. “Despite suffering issues with the wind again, we made the most of the conditions to initially test our starts while working on clutch set-up, before pushing on during day three to complete a further 115 laps at race speed.
“Once again we're leaving here with the feeling that we're ahead of the game. The set-up we've found is very close to what we'd run back in the UK, and with our test at Guadix we'll have the opportunity to try these new settings on a track similar to those that we compete on back at home.”