Sylvain Guintoli has admitted that he is beginning to feel 'butterflies' as his return to British Superbike Championship competition approaches at Cadwell Park this weekend – describing it as like the season starting all over again.
Guintoli has been out of action since falling from his bike following a collision with Josh Brookes at Donington Park back in late May, leaving the Frenchman with a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg and facing a lengthy convalescence period.
Prior to that, he had taken four straight rostrum finishes – including victory on his BSB debut around Brands Hatch's Indy Circuit – meaning the accident torpedoed what had looked like being a genuine title challenge. Having missed four meetings and with it all hope for fighting for championship glory in 2009, the Worx Crescent Suzuki star only has one objective for the remaining four outings at Cadwell, Croft, Silverstone and Oulton Park – the top step of the podium.
“I'm really looking forward to the racing,” enthused the 27-year-old. “There's the challenge of coming back and then there's the challenge of Cadwell Park, and right now I'm starting to think the challenge of Cadwell may be the greater.
“I feel very strong and very confident, but now I am starting to feel the excitement in my stomach – I'm getting butterflies! For me, it feels like the beginning of the season all over again, and while there's pressure I think it is positive pressure. I really cannot wait to get started!”
Those sentiments were corroborated by team manager Jack Valentine – who also made a point of thanking Tommy Hill and Michael Rutter for their efforts in taking Guintoli's place in the interim period. Now, though, 'The Man' is back – and Valentine is confident that the Montélimar native will swiftly find himself back in the groove.
“We're looking forward to Sylvain being back in the paddock with us, going racing,” he underlined. “He's understandably very excited and keen to go out and show exactly what he can do. As a team, we'll approach this weekend the way we did Oulton Park earlier in the year. Sylvain will take it step-by-step, get to find his way around the track and steadily get his lap times down. We'll build to the qualifying sessions on Sunday, and look to get the best possible result there ready to give us the best start for Monday.
“At this time I'd also like to express my gratitude to Tommy Hill and Michael Rutter for the sterling job they both did in filling in for Sylvain these past few months. Michael put together some incredible practice and qualifying performances to keep the Worx Crescent Suzuki on the front row. Tommy was just as sharp, and at Mallory Park he was cruelly robbed when he looked to have the job done in that first race. They both gave us some brilliant highlights, so from the team we'd like to say a big thank you and wish them both the very best for the future.”