When I got the tip-off on Saturday morning at Oulton Park that Sylvain Guintoli had been snatched from the Worx Suzuki team to ride for Alstare Suzuki in WSB I simply didn’t believe it.
fter all, I knew Sylvain had gone to Suzuki GB’s HQ on October 10 to sign a contract with Crescent Suzuki to race in BSB next year. A contract is a contract right?
After the Spies/Toseland switch it’s blatantly obvious that anything goes. I remember that Yamaha statement that Spies would be in WSB for 2010 and go to MotoGP in 2011 and Spies telling our WSB reporter Michael Guy the same weekend that, ‘contracts can change.’ How prophetic was that quip?
But with Suzuki politics playing their part - Crescent has close connections with Suzuki Japan given that Crescent’s Paul Denning runs the Rizla Suzki MotoGP, plus that fact that the Alstare Suzuki team are strapped for cash and could do with a continued injection of cash from Japan – I guess I shouldn’t have been so naive.
I’m genuinely pleased for Sylvain Guintoli who has to be one of the warmest, personable people in the BSB paddock and – after all the hurt he’s endured this year – thoroughly deserves a break.
But what I also know is how hard the Worx Suzuki team have worked to build the team around the talented French ace.
That’s why team boss Jack Valentine signed him so early. And now their carefully laid plans have gone up in smoke.
I can’t begin to imagine Valentine’s private feelings right now – and I’m also wondering what Worx might think of the whole mess. Or how the team will break the news to them!
I chuckled at the Suzuki press release, stating that the BSB team will definitely be expanded to two riders – and one of them is going to be Yukio Kagayama.
What kind of sop is that to a team who had a real championship winner in their camp, only to lose him through no fault of their own?
Suzuki funding a second rider is the least they could do after pulling the rug from under the Worx team.
Yukio is a great character and we all loved his presence in his two years of BSB racing and we’ll welcome him back with open arms – but it’s five years and countless major crashes since he raced here.
I’ve heard that certain factions in the Suzuki camp reckon he’ll be a title contender and I’ll be over the moon to see him winning races here again – but the landscape has changed in BSB in five years.
There’s a bunch of hungry young guns and we’ve got Pirelli tyres now, but lots of our tracks are those same old gnarly bull-rings they ever were.
I’m guessing Yukio will feel just a little claustrophobic at some of them after so long on those wide, fast and flowing WSB circuits.
It’s going to be interesting to see what trick Valentine might have left up his sleeve to sign a replacement for Guintoli. Tommy Hill has to be favourite but Hydrex Honda and Shaun Muir might have something to say about that.
I’m sure Valentine would welcome Tom Sykes back with open arms – he was devastated when he went to Yamaha for the 2009 season.
But from what we’re hearing Sykes is tipped to join Paul Bird’s Kawasaki team.
Neil Hodgson tested the team’s bike in 2007 at Cadwell and could bring some experience to the team.
But has he still got the fire to put it on the line week in, week out in the cage-fighting arena of BSB?
And are any of them at the kind of level Guintoli would be at when fully fit?
I’m betting Valentine and his crew are sitting around posing the same pertinent question.