A positive two-day test at Jerez for Sylvain Guintoli has left the Suzuki stand-in feeling confident ahead of his first French Grand Prix since 2008.
Guintoli, currently contesting the British Superbike Championship with Bennetts Suzuki, has been called up by Suzuki to replace the injured Alex Rins, who suffered a break to his left wrist in a crash during FP3 at the Circuit of the Americas. Having immediately flown home for surgery, Rins’s recovery time was set for at least six weeks, ruling him out of the Spanish, French and Italian Grands Prix.
Guintoli, who currently sits 14th in the BSB standings on 20 points, got his first taste of the GSX-RR on the Monday following the Jerez race and was immediately competitive, posting times just 2.6s off the fastest pace of the day.
On the Tuesday, Guintoli focused his time on adapting to the Michelin tyres, in particular the harder compounds, and feels he made a big step forward in his understanding of the unfamiliar French rubber.
“The test in Jerez last week was very positive for me, especially for the second day,” said Guintoli, who famously led the 2007 French Grand Prix for a handful of laps before crashing.
“I was able to work intensively with the tyres and get to know them a little bit better. We focused a lot of the hard tyres, likely the ones we will use in the race, and I improved on the pace quite a bit so I’m happy about that.”
Not only does Guintoli now feel more comfortable on the Michelin tyres, but is happier with his feeling on the GSX-RR overall after the two days of testing and is comfortable within the surroundings of the factory Suzuki outfit.
This has allowed him to come into this weekend’s fifth round of the 2017 season brimming with confidence and excited at the prospect of racing in a grand prix in front of his home support once again.
“It was really great to experience the Suzuki GSX-RR and do this testing. I have a better understanding of the bike and the tyres.
“Also the connection that we created with the team is very positive. We shared a lot of information together and the feeling is very good.
“I’m really looking forward to Le Mans. The testing got rid of some of my apprehension and I feel more confident, so I can’t wait to meet all the French fans and enjoy this amazing experience.”