Winning the 2014 World Championship on an Aprilia RSV4 was the highlight of Sylvain Guintoli’s career, losing any chance of a repeat performance after an off-season injury and struggle on the venerable Honda last year brought him back to earth.
The combination of his own talent, proven pace at PI and the all-new Yamaha YZF-R1 took him back to the top after the only two regular qualifying performances – Friday’s – in the new-look WorldSBK weekend.
Guintoli, with his feet on the ground, but always open to possibilities, for Saturday and Sunday racedays, was nonetheless surprised to be top in such a year, with so many other top challengers. “It was a surprise!” he confessed. “We know we have a good base, I said it from the first test. But being so competitive right away…no. But for now it is just a one lap pace. We may struggle on Saturday but I do not know. We will see. We might not struggle.”
It is plain to see that the M1-insired R1 is a more than solid base to go racing from. Guintoli rated its characteristics by saying, “The bike is very driveable. We improved it over the winter but also in practice, so it feels like… for me it is very different from what I am used to so I have been getting used to it. But yes, the bike here is fantastic to ride. It turns so well on the throttle. It seems like we have a very good potential.”
As for the possibilities on a race weekend with a Saturday as well as a Sunday, Guintoli harked back to the previous experience of such a schedule, in a weird weekend all-round. “It will be interesting. We did it once in Laguna and it was quite good, I liked it, but I did not like the red flags!”