A late season charge, which included two podiums, has seen Sylvain Guintoli seal sixth position in the 2011 World Superbike Championship for newcomers Effenbert Liberty Ducati.
The Frenchman joined the burgeoning the team after finishing seventh overall for Suzuki Alstare in 2010, the former MotoGP rider proving instantly competitive on the satellite 1098R.
However, Guintoli's dreams of surpassing his previous best seemed scuppered from the very first race when he crashed at Phillip Island, prompting a lengthy recovery to full strength. As such, it wasn't until the second-half of the season that Guintoli showed his true form, starting with a maiden podium in the USA, before going one better for second in the wet at the Nurburgring.
Guintoli very nearly ended his season on a high after leading much of the opening race at Portimao, only for Carlos Checa to pass him late on, but that result – coupled to a fifth place in race two – was enough to see him overtake Leon Camier for sixth overall.
A superb result for the brand-new Effenbert Liberty Ducati team, Guintoli – who was down in 16th overall after four rounds - had the distinction of finishing each of the final ten races inside the top seven.
“I am delighted with how the season has turned out. I believe that we have put in a lot of crucial work in this final chapter of this season and it has gone well. I am proud that we are still improving and that we worked hard throughout the season. The fact that I ended sixth in standings is really great. I am part of a great team that deserved to this position, I am glad to give it to them. A goal for the future? Work hard and keep improving.”
Guintoli and team-mate Jakub Smrz are tipped to remain with Effenbert-Liberty in 2012, though rumours have suggested it could expand to four bikes next season.