He may have big boots to fill in the form of now-retired reigning champion Max Biaggi, but Sylvain Guintoli showed few signs of pressure to live up to his predecessor by claiming a remarkable victory on his first outing with Aprilia.
The Frenchman had been in solid form in the run up to the opening round as he focused on adapting to the RSV4, though few had anticipated he would turn in a race winning performance on his debut from sixth on the grid.
However, Guintoli would meticulously work his way up the order in the first race, deposing team-mate Eugene Laverty on the 15th lap before cruising to the chequered flag with minimal drama.
An accomplished result, Guintoli very nearly made it a dominant double in race two as he led from laps four to 21, but would fall just under two laps short when he was denied by a charging Laverty.
For the Frenchman, whose fourth WSBK
win was his first in completely dry conditions, he was thrilled and a little surprised to be celebrating a victory at the very start of his Aprilia tenure.
“It's great to start off with a win,” he said “Quite honestly, after the tests I know I could do well and from the start my intention was to give it my all. My goal has always been to win, but sometimes you have to adapt to conditions. However, today the setting was good, I didn't have any serious concerns about tyre duration and everything went according to plan.
“In the first race I didn't get off to a good start and I lost a few positions, but lap by lap I found the right pace to move forward. Eugene had gotten away well and when I overtook him I managed to keep the distance and take this important win.
“In Race 2 Eugene had a bit more than me in the last laps. He employed a strategy similar to the one I used in the first race, but this is a fantastic result for the team even if we are just at the beginning of the championship.”
Other riders to win the first race with a new team include Leon Haslam for Suzuki in 2010 and Noriyuki Haga
for Ducati in 2009.