Denning's take on Guintoli's WSB switch

Published: 15 October 2009

Now that the dust has settled on Sylvain Guintoli’s move to Alstare Suzuki there’s time to reflect on how the situation developed into the major moves that took not only Guintoli back to the world stage but also sees Yukio Kagayama returning to BSB with Crescent Suzuki and the team hunting for second top rider.

Crescent Suzuki owner (and Rizla Suzuki team manager) Paul Denning offered this insight into how the situation arose, how it was dealt with and why initially no one from the Worx team, or Denning himself could openly comment:

He told MCN: "Given that everyone knew about (Leon) Haslam (signing for Alstare Suzuki) we couldn’t say a thing reference Sylvain and WSB because it automatically confirmed Max’s (Neukirchner) departure (to Ten Kate Honda) which couldn’t be done until Alstare gave the green light (that the Neukirchner had been agreed).

"Suzuki is responsible for my livelihood and for Jack Valentine’s (Worx Suzuki team manager) and the (Worx Suzuki) team’s, and I’m not in a position to compromise that.

"Sylvain’s contract for 2010 was with our company, Crescent, for 2010 – not Suzuki. I was simply called by Alstare asking if that was the case (ie a fixed contract) because if not they were keen to talk to him.

"I discussed this with Suzuki GB and Worx initially and then with Jack, and we assessed the pros and cons together to come up with an overall plan that was good for us, for Suzuki GB, for Suzuki (Japan) and for Worx – let alone Sylvain! – and allowed them to discuss together."

Denning says that with Sylvain staying, the team was stuck budget-wise at one rider and, as the Worx team found this seen this year, the pitfalls of a one-rider campaign became painfully obvious when Guintoli was sidelined by injury.

But Denning said: "The team would have continued with a single rider if no more budget had been forthcoming but BSB needs as high quality a field as it can get, and via this deal we will now be running two top riders.

"Yuki has had a tough year but is still a top six WSB guy and, with our boys looking after him, he’ll be on it in BSB and going for the championship. And Jack is discussing terms with other riders now. We want two top guys.

"The entire deal was our decision entirely – absolutely no pressure from Suzuki Japan or Alstare at all. In fact I see it as a decent example of some open-minded thinking.

"Worx were absolutely part of the confidential decision making process, and Guintoli will be promoting their brand in WSB as well, so they keep a superb brand ambassador and get some global exposure for no additional cost.

"Sylvain's a proper friend and a proper professional. Why would we not want to see him become a factory Suzuki WSB rider? The chance might not come again. What goes around comes around and he is peaking that we have allowed him to take this step up."

Denning reckons that far from losing Guntoli being a disaster, he sees the deal as a positive, bringing security to the team and an opportunity to build for the future. 

"We're in a hideous recession, retail is a disaster, budgets are impossible but Jack’s now got the chance to build a top level two-rider team and his and the boys’ jobs are safe. Suzuki GB is our biggest partner and we have to do what’s right for Suzuki.

"Of course we are professionally and personally disappointed that Sylvain won’t be with us next year. But, balanced against the opportunity it gives him, and the opportunity it gives a young British rider to emulate his step up the Suzuki ladder by being with us in BSB, as well as having Yukio back, in the end it makes sense."