Sylvain Guintoli was pleasantly surprised by the performance of his Crescent Yamaha R1 around Phillip Island and feels that come race weekend, “we can do something.”
Ending the two-day test fifth fastest, Guintoli topped Tuesday afternoon's session in sweltering, humid conditions, despite suffering a huge high-side on the exit of turn two.
After walking away from the spill uninjured, the Frenchman later stated that the bike's performance through the second day and the side grip it generated caused Guintoli to tentatively talk up his chances of scoring two strong results at the Australian track on Saturday and Sunday.
“Today was surprisingly good,” said the Frenchman, who won the World Superbike championship in 2014. “I mean in the afternoon everyone lost some pace because of the heat and the wind but it seemed like it didn't really affect me too much. The pace was actually really good.
“It's a bit of a surprise so early on in the project. I'll take it, try not to get too excited by it and keep the feet on the ground and be realistic about what we can do. We're coming on and the bike is suiting this track really well. We had a good rhythm today.
“There was a lot of wind and it was quite gusty. Here you have a lot of long corners where you spend a lot of long time on the leaning so sometimes the wind will stop and you will always almost fall on the inside, then go again really hard. It was quite difficult and the tarmac got quite hot.
“The performance overall was a little more slippery. For us it seems like the R1 generates a lot of grip on the sidewall of the tyre so it's an interesting find. It's good news. It means the base of the bike is working very well.
Asked whether his performance in recent tests has caused him to revaluate his goals at the opening rounds of the year, Guintoli continued, “I think here maybe we can do something.
“I don't know about the rest of the tracks in the first part of the season but here we've got some good strengths. We'll see. In the race it's always a different story. Here, maybe. I think the first race is going to highlight our strengths and weaknesses and then we'll have to work on that to get stronger.”
The Crescent Yamaha man was backed up on Tuesday afternoon's time sheets by team-mate Alex Lowes, who finished fourth. While insisting that they should not be placing so highly so soon into this new adventure, Guintoli admitted that the potential of this bike is 'massive.'
“The problem is that here it's a bit of a different track. I think the R1 is really suited to this track. We have to try and get the best out of it on race day. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We need to keep realistic with what we can do.
“We shouldn't really be topping sessions now as the project is completely new. It means that we have a very strong base as a bike to work with. The potential is massive. But it feels like a poker game. You've got a really good hand but you don't want to show it too early. We need to keep the cards in our hands quite a bit longer.”