THE WSB WIN­NER

A WSB champ on 2017’s hottest new bike – we’d give short odds on Guin­toli be­ing at the front from round one

Performance Bikes (UK) - - Bsb Season Preview -

ONE MAN hop­ing to spoil the Shakey vs Haslam party is 2014 World Su­per­bike cham­pion Syl­vain Guin­toli, who re­turns to BSB from the world se­ries with one goal. With only Kawasaki and Du­cati in a po­si­tion to win in World Superbikes, the French­man wanted a fresh chal­lenge and with the level of com­pe­ti­tion in BSB al­ready high, tak­ing a step back to the UK wasn’t a big is­sue for him to get his head around.

“Racing in the UK makes no dif­fer­ence to me,” he says. “I just want to be some­where I can chal­lenge. You get frus­trated when you can’t com­pete for vic­tory. I was lucky enough to be part of that ex­clu­sive group who had the right bike to fight for the win in WSB in 2013/14. I won quite a bit and took the 2014 world ti­tle, but over the last two years, even when things were good it was very, very, hard to fight with the top four bikes.”

Hav­ing al­ready raced in BSB, al­beit briefly in 2009, Guin­toli has one race vic­tory and a num­ber of podi­ums

to his name, but the se­ries isn’t the only chal­lenge for the for­mer Mo­toGP man this year.

Join­ing the Ben­netts Suzuki squad, he’ll race the all-new GSX-R1000. But while on pa­per it looks to be a mas­sive step for­ward, on the race track it re­mains an un­known quan­tity.

Know­ing that, Guin­toli and the Hawk Racing squad be­hind the team started their win­ter test­ing prepa­ra­tions as early as Fe­bru­ary with a cold, wet shake­down test at Mal­lory Park. Guin­toli has since rid­den var­i­ous it­er­a­tions of the bike, in­clud­ing the Yoshimura-spec World En­durance bike he’ll race at the Suzuka Eight-Hour next year.

“I did quite a few laps on a stock bike at Mal­lory be­fore Spain and it’s quite amaz­ing,” Guin­toli said. “The way the new Suzuki is built – the di­men­sions, the en­gine po­si­tion and how the en­gine works – is ideal for a race bike. They’ve built it with that in mind; the project leader for this bike worked in Mo­toGP for many years.

“I rode the Yoshimura race bike in Malaysia and for me that pack­age was ready to race. Ob­vi­ously, we have the dif­fer­ence be­tween elec­tron­ics to deal with but apart from that our bike is iden­ti­cal be­cause Yoshimura have sent us all the parts!”

While Guin­toli seems qui­etly con­fi­dent ahead of the new GSX-R’s race de­but, he’s clever enough not to say too much hav­ing yet to be on track with his cham­pi­onship ri­vals.

“We won’t know how good this bike us un­til we have a straight fight at the first race. In test­ing, the bike has been work­ing re­ally well, but we haven’t been up against any­one else yet! We don’t know if we’re there, if we’ll have an ad­van­tage or if we’ll be a sec­ond be­hind!

“What I do know is that I’ll be go­ing out to go as fast as I can from the off. There’s no need to think about it and take it easy be­cause we have a new bike. When­ever I race I push as hard as I can. If I don’t, it won’t be a true re­flec­tion of where we are with the bike.”

‘WE RE­ALLY WON’T KNOW HOW GOOD THE NEW GSX-R IS UN­TIL WE HAVE A STRAIGHT FIGHT AT THE FIRST RACE OF THE SEA­SON’

Could the re­turn of Guin­toli up­set Shakey and Haslam’s ap­ple cart? Syl­vain started the year with a damp test at Mal­lory

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