MotoGP racer Sylvain Guintoli will compete in the British Superbike Championship next season after concluding a one-year deal with Crescent Suzuki.
Having failed to secure a top-line seat in the World Superbike Championship, Guintoli has turned his attention to the British series in an attempt to re-establish a winning reputation.
While it is seen as a risk to be moving from MotoGP, where he has raced at the top level for two seasons with Tech 3 Yamaha and Alice Ducati, to a national Superbike championship, Guintoli turned down a deal to remain as a test rider with Ducati in order to race.
“I am really pleased about it,” Rizla Suzuki team manager Jack Valentine told Crash.net
. “Sylvain is a quality rider; he is still young and has a lot of ambitions. He has come to BSB to win it.”
Speaking about how the deal came about, Valentine reveals an agreement was put in motion by Suzuki MotoGP boss Paul Denning.
“We were looking for a replacement for Tom next year and we were talking with several people, not just in the BSB paddock. Paul Denning just got chatting to him and out of that it emerged Sylvain was very interested because he wanted to get back to winning ways, which he hasn't done for some time even though he has done a great job in MotoGP.
“He is seeing this as an ambitious move to get back to winning races and the championship before hopefully moving to the world championship with Suzuki.”
Signing for a single season, Guintoli fills one of two available seats at the Crescent team for 2009 following Tom Sykes' switch to World Superbikes and Atsushi Watanabe's Relentless Suzuki deal.
While Guintoli has not enjoyed the best of success in MotoGP, his signing is nonetheless seen as something of a coup. Indeed, Valentine is excited about the prospect of his arrival to the team.
“It is great,” he added. “It is really exciting for the team, Suzuki and our sponsors. The good thing about Sylvain is that he has been riding MotoGP bikes with all the electronics on, so he knows the modern techniques of racing. I am looking forward to getting him on our bike and getting his feedback on the package.”
Set to test for Suzuki as soon as he completes the final MotoGP round at Valencia, Valentine points out Guintoli's promising test for the Yamaha WSBK team as an indicator to what he will be capable of.
“There is no question he can ride a Superbike. He tested for a leading team in World Superbike who was looking for a rider and he was very high on the list. They were very impressed with him. He won't have problems adapting to the Superbike, compared to the MotoGP bike. All we need to do is give him some intensive track time and he'll soon be on it.”
The team hope to be in a position to confirm a second rider in the next few weeks.