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Sylvain Guintoli - Q&A

Sylvain Guintoli reflects on his World Superbike Championship season so far and his hopes of staying with Aprilia.
Crash.net:
How are you enjoying the WSBK half term holidays?

Sylvain Guintoli:
Oh, it's fine but I actually came back from testing and had a huge crash so I'm not able to enjoy it at the moment.

We were testing at Portimao and I caught a pretty massive high-side, landed kind of weirdly and then the bike had to land on me too. It's fair to say I feel pretty rough. Once that feeling is gone though I hope to enjoy my time off.

Crash.net:
Do you think the mid-term WSBK break is too long?

Sylvain Guintoli:
It is a very long break, but in the WSBK calendar we start so early and finish so late in the year that it's a useful thing to recharge the batteries, For the rest of the time it's one race every two weeks and two back to back so you've got to have a break somewhere in all that time. You wouldn't want it any longer than that though because you can lose bike fitness but as it stands we're all keen to get back on the bike afterwards.

It's also good from the point of view of injuries because it gives injured riders time to recover and keeps the grid full when we return – it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Crash.net:
Has the atmosphere in the team changed since Gigi's departure?

Sylvain Guintoli:
Well, as I said before, the Aprilia team is a very long established one and all the people I work with day to day are the same as last year so performance wise I'm building on last year. Romano obviously needs to make his mark but as it stands he's fitting in very well.

Aprilia is a well-oiled machine and from an operation point of view we are progressing smoothly. The change in team manger hasn't changed the good way new parts and strategies are evaluated and that has to be a good thing.

When it comes down to it only one person has changed in the team, a very important one, but only one so I'm pleased to see that there has been no change in the progress we're making.

Crash.net:
How do you evaluate your season?

Sylvain Guintoli:
Well, I'm second, but like all other riders you can never feel satisfied. I think one of my biggest frustrations though is my crash in the wet at Assen, I had such a good opportunity to pull back some big points on Tom and of course my other big frustration is the coming together I had with Marco at Portimao. That's racing though, I think that this season we're all pushing each other very hard and both me and Marco are on the absolute limit.

Crash.net:
Your season is certainly very consistent…

Sylvain Guintoli:
Everybody keeps saying that I'm being consistent but I tell you if I could win more, I would. Believe me, it's hard racing out there and winning isn't easy, I really am pushing hard every round. I'm also doing the best job on the Aprilia and my team mate isn't exactly slow.

Unfortunately I've only had two victories but that's not some kind of long game, the crashes I've had show that if there's an opportunity to overtake, I'll certainly take it. There's no strategy in that way, make no mistake, I'm always going for the win.

Honestly I don't really look at the championship I just ride on the day for the day. I may look smooth and consistent but those elements are key to going fast. People often confuse smoothness for just doddling around but you don't get a podium in WSBK by holding back.

Crash.net:
Are you making any change in the bike or your style to take the battle to Tom?

Sylvain Guintoli:
Yes, the test we've just done in Portugal was key to that we tested quite a number of different strategies and at the end of the test I'm confident that we've make a good improvement. Those can only be verified in the last 4 rounds of racing but I do feel we've got something. 44 points is a lot but there's plenty up for grabs and this is bike racing.

No long term strategy though, we'll just take it race by race.

Crash.net:
What exactly were you testing?

Sylvain Guintoli:
The main thing we were working on was the geometry of the chassis, we made some pretty strong changes there and also experimented with some different power deliveries from the electronics which worked really well. We really seemed to find something for race pace and I expect to get something from that when I go out next.

We had to be careful though because we've already got a well sorted bike and could only make very systematic changes in case we got lost. We had to remember that we don't get any testing between now and the next race so we have to be confident when we come out with the new settings that they won't put us backwards. The testing will be validated at Jerez.

Luckily I managed to get just about everything done before I decided to launch myself of the bike.

Crash.net:
Are you looking at your race strategy or style?

Sylvain Guintoli:
There's only really a subtle change in style because of the different feel of the bike now. Tom is very strong and consistent and if you let him then he can check out so starts and qualifying is key, my qualifying has been improving and I need to keep that going. It's not all one way though because there have been races where he was fastest but also races where I was. You could see that in one race at Laguna he couldn't follow me and then the short one I couldn't follow him, I took 4 points in race 1 and he took 5 back in race 2, it's pretty evenly balanced.

Crash.net:
Many people said that you had decided to ride more aggressively and that the pass on Marco was part of that?

Sylvain Guintoli:
I wouldn't say more aggressive no, at Portimao there was a gap for me to take and I took it.

After the race we analysed what had happened carefully. With 5 laps to go I started to go a bit faster than Marco and as I caught him we both caught up with Johnny at turn 5. Because of that Marco actually braked 20 meters early and as he came in on me I was also trying not to lose the front so had less control, I was worried I might take him out too.

We hit in a small way and the brake lever protection bar was pushed up, it caught somewhere and I went down. Unfortunately I took Marco with me but I wasn't necessarily trying to pass or anything, it was just a racing incident.

Obviously he wasn't happy afterwards but neither was I but you just have to get on with it.

Crash.net:
Have team orders been discussed towards the end of the season?

Sylvain Guintoli:
It doesn't look like it. At the moment there are still plenty of points up for grabs but it's not my call anyway so it isn't really something I can comment on.

Crash.net:
How about the team, has anything been said about future plans?

Sylvain Guintoli:
Honestly nothing has been confirmed. For sure Aprilia has the will to go back to MotoGP soon, or it could be very soon, but for now nothing has been confirmed and that also goes for WSBK.

Crash.net:
How about you?

Sylvain Guintoli:
This year is the last year of my contract and it's really too early to talk about next year. Ideally though I'd like to stay at Aprilia because me and the team get on so well and there is such a good understanding there.

But for me it's still all about this season and we're still getting faster so we've got a good shot at the title. There are very small differences between the front runners and we're still there.

Crash.net:
Thanks Syvain.

Sylvain Guintoli:
Cheers


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