Sylvain Guintoli insists he is under no pressure ahead of his World Superbike Championship debut at Portimao, the former MotoGP rider keen to use the weekend as a chance to get to know his new Suzuki Alstare employers.
Guintoli, who originally re-signed for Worx Crescent Suzuki in the British Superbike Championship, was due to make his first appearance on the factory Alstare machine during post-weekend testing at Portimao, but has instead been given an early chance to sample a race event.
Taking the place of temporary stand-in Karl Muggeridge, who in turn was replacing the unavailable Max Neukirchner, Guintoli admits his early promotion poses a challenge as he has never ridden the Portuguese circuit before, while this will also be his first time collaborating with Francia Batta's team.
“It's hard to describe my feelings about racing for a factory team like Suzuki Alstare next weekend,” Guintoli, who won his first-ever BSB race from pole position, said. “Originally, I thought that I would be carrying on with Suzuki in the British Championship, but then an offer came along, at the last minute, for me to race in the Superbike World Championship and I just couldn't say no.
“It is a fantastic opportunity and I would like to thank Francis (Batta), Suzuki Japan, Suzuki GB and all concerned for giving this great chance.
“I have seen on TV how competitive World Superbikes is and I am really looking forward to this challenge. The series is exciting and very tough and I think it is going to be a big, but wonderful challenge, for us all.
“I have never ridden at Portimao before, but I know that it is quite technical and there are many changes of elevation and lots of blind corners. That means that I will have to start off by learning which way the track goes and take my time getting to know that and my new team.
“The good thing is that I am under no pressure in Portimao and will be able to use the weekend to get to know the bike and the team before getting down to the hard work in the winter tests. I am going to do my best, of course, but I hope I can get on with the bike and the team quickly and also have some fun.”
Guintoli, who will join Leon Haslam in the Suzuki Alstare team for 2010, is one of two BSB regulars competing at Portimao, along with Leon Camier on the Aprilia.