Sylvain Guintoli has conceded he has 'definitely not been at 100 per cent' since injuring his shoulder mid-way through the 2013 World Superbike Championship season after seeing an erstwhile bright title campaign fade during the closing rounds.
Winning just a single race the entire season – at the Phillip Island opener -, Guintoli nonetheless maintained a convincing title challenge all the way to the final round, while he also led the standings longer than any other rider.
However, a shoulder injury sustained during a cycling accident in July would stymie the Frenchman for the latter seven rounds, Guintoli's recovery hampered by ligament damage that couldn't heal properly whilst he was still competing regularly.
Indeed, though Guintoli at times sought to play down the effect of the injury, the fact it is still affecting him more than three months later at Jerezsuggests he hasn't been in peak physical fitness.
With this in mind, Guintoli is delighted with his performance, finishing third overall in his first season as an Aprilia rider, and hints that he will indeed return with the manufacturer for 2014.
“This season was fantastic,” he said. “I battled for the Championship in my rookie year on a new bike. Unfortunately after my shoulder injury there was just something missing and in the second part of the season I definitely was not at 100 per cent.
“In any case the experience gained will be fundamental in 2014. As is always the case when you don't win you think about improving next year. Today, especially in race two, I tried to keep up with Eugene and Tom but I just didn't have the pace and the strength to do it.
“This ends a really great season for me with a great team and a great team mate who gave me a run for my money. Now I'll be thinking about recovering physically and preparing for the next championship.”
Guintoli is expected to ride with Aprilia Racing next season, possibly alongside Marco Melandri.