As the high-profile draw for the British Superbike Championship in the lead up to the 2009 season, Sylvain Guintoli went a long way to prove his pedigree on his debut at Brands Hatch by leaving the opening round with an early series lead.
Having already impressed with his pole position performance in qualifying, Guintoli would go on to make his task difficult after a pair of poor starts left him playing catch up on each occasion.
Nonetheless, the Frenchman got a chance to flex his overtaking skills as he scythed his way back up the order with a variety of overtaking manoeuvres at Paddock Hill Bend, Druids, Clearways and even the high-speed Surtees left-hander.
It means Guintoli leaves the opening round at Brands Hatch with seven point lead over Leon Camier, while it also gives Suzuki the lead of the manufacturer standings too.
“It was a great start for us,” he told Crash.net Radio
. “Pole position, winning the first race and leading he championship - this is great stuff! All the hard work in testing has enabled us to get some pace and confidence with the bike, and the team has learnt quickly to work well with this bike.
“The first start was crap and the second one was rubbish! The good thing is that on this track, even though it is really hard to overtake, we had the speed to do so still. In the first race I managed to come back and win, but in the second one we got caught with the Hondas. I think I over-rode it and once I got myself back together I overtook them. It was good fun though.
Pointing out that Brands Hatch isn't traditionally conducive to overtaking, Guintoli insists that the circuit does not even play to the Worx Crescent Suzuki's top speed strength. Nonetheless, Guintoli says he very much enjoyed his first BSB outing.
“I think this is one of the worst tracks for the Suzuki, so it is very encouraging for the next rounds. In MotoGP, you don't get much overtaking, but here – when the tyres warm-up -, it seems like the category is better for fighting.
“I really enjoyed myself, fighting it out with the British riders was fun. I was expecting some elbow contact, although we weren't far from it!”