It was the move that got tongues wagging throughout the motorcycling paddock, but - one year on - there is now a sense that we will never discover quite how good Sylvain Guintoli could have been in British Superbikes.

Making the substantial leap to Crescent Suzuki in BSB all the way from Pramac Ducati in MotoGP, the switch was certainly best described as bold, but with Guintoli seeking renewed fortunes as a Superbike racer, the more relaxed surroundings of the British series provided a good foundation.

A rigorous testing programme may have seen Guintoli quickly get to grips with the GSX-R1000 and some of the quirkier British circuits, but pole position and race victory on his debut in the category still raised plenty of eyebrows.

Podiums followed in the next three races and while there were already signs that Guintoli and Crescent didn't quite have the strength to beat Leon Camier and Airwaves Yamaha, the Frenchman was still earmarked as his closest rival.

Unfortunately, we never got the chance to find out, Guintoli breaking his leg in a curious accident involving Josh Brookes whilst they rounded the sighting lap at Donington Park. A bad break for the rider, it was a similarly terrible blow for the series, Guintoli having quickly established himself as a popular character in the paddock.

With hopes of a title challenge dashed, Guintoli returned to action before the year was out. However, he remained very much on the recovery trail, while the threat of further injury dented his confidence further. Nonetheless, Guintoli kept himself upright at all times and by the season's end he was beginning to show a glimpse of earlier form.

It meant there were smiles all round when Guintoli confirmed he had re-signed with Crescent for another year, only for the factory Suzuki World Superbike team to come calling with a more lucrative offer.

Cue some contract reshuffling and Guintoli will now measure himself against the best in the world next season. It means we can only ponder as to whether or not Guintoli could have launched a title tilt in BSB.

Either way, his impact is represented here as you vote Guintoli as your eighth top rider of 2009, despite only completing half of the season. No doubt he'll still have plenty of British supporters cheering him on in 2010...

Statistics:

Team: Worx Crescent Suzuki Bike: Suzuki GSX-R1000

Championship position: 8th Points: 147

Race starts: 13 Pole positions: 1 Victories: 1 Podiums: 4 Best results: 1st (Brands Hatch) Points finishes: 12

Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2008: N/A

Top 10 BSB Rider of the Year 2009

9 - Ian Lowry 10 - John Laverty

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