Sylvain Guintoli will head to the British Superbike Championship with his head held high, despite a tough second season in MotoGP.
The Frenchman made his MotoGP debut at the start of 2007, riding a Dunlop-shod Tech 3 Yamaha, which he eventually took to 16th in the world championship (two places ahead of team-mate Makoto Tamada).
Notable highlights of Guintoli's rookie season included briefly leading his home (wet) French GP, finishing fourth at the wet/dry Japanese Grand Prix - 0.6secs from third placed Toni Elias - and qualifying fifth for the Valencia season finale.
However, with double World Superbike champion James Toseland signing for Tech 3 in 2008 - and Colin Edwards moving from the factory team to occupy the second seat - Tech 3 was reluctantly forced to let Guintoli go and he subsequently signed to partner Elias at Alice Ducati this season.
The Desmosedici GP8 proved a complex puzzle for all except Casey Stoner - Elias took two podiums, but his next best finish was only seventh.
Nevertheless, Guintoli never publically complained, finished every race and scored points in all but one race. The highlight of his season was undoubtedly a sixth place finish in the soaking wet German Grand Prix, without traction control!
Guintoli finished the 2008 season one place and 25 points behind Elias, in 13th position.
“My experience with the Alice Team has concluded and I wanted to have the best performance possible," said Sylvain after a twelfth place finish at Valencia on Sunday. "I gave all I had and at the end I have conquered some more points for the world championship. I have to thank my staff because they have always given their best during this season. We have encountered many difficulties but we never gave up.”
Guintoli's track engineer Sergio Verbena in turn thanked the 26-year-old for his efforts.
“Sylvain has maintained the same level all weekend long. He has done a good race showing true professionalism in this last day of the season. He didn't start too well but after a few laps he found a good rhythm being able to overtake some riders," said Verbena. "We want to thank him for the work done this year and we wish him the best for the rest of his career."
Guintoli will ride for the factory-backed Crescent Suzuki team in the 2009 BSB championship, while Alice will field an all-new line-up of Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa. Elias has returned to Gresini Honda.