MCE British Superbike racer Sylvain Guintoli will return to the MotoGP world championship for the first time since 2011 at his home race in Le Mans in two weeks’ time, as he steps into the Suzuki team to replace the injured Alex Rins.
The Frenchman has been rumoured as the replacement for Rins since it was announced that the rookie would sit out the race after breaking his wrist at Austin last time out, undergoing surgery afterwards and expected to be out for six to eight weeks.
Guintoli last rode in MotoGP in 2011 when he deputised for the injured Loris Capirossi on the Pramac Ducati, but before that enjoyed eight years in Grand Prix racing, with his career highlight coming at Le Mans in 2007 when he led a wet race on the Tech 3 Yamaha.
However, with such a long absence from the top level of racing, the World Superbike champions admits that he’s not expecting an easy weekend.
"First, I would like to thank Suzuki for giving me this fantastic opportunity. Being able to ride the GSX-RR, currently one of the fastest racing machine in the world is a very exciting prospect, let alone at my home race in front of the French fans. The ‘Le Mans Grand Prix’ brings back a lot of strong memories, the best one of course was leading the MotoGP race for a few laps in 2007.
“This is going to be a very difficult challenge, adapting to the very powerful prototype MotoGP machine and the Michelin tires, but my main goal is to enjoy the experience and give 100% commitment to the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR. The test on Tuesday will give us some time to adapt and to start understanding this amazing motorcycle. Finally, I want to wish a very good recovery to Alex."
Despite that, though, Suzuki team boss Davide Brivio says that he’s the perfect replacement for Rins considering his role as a part of the Suzuki family in BSB.
“For us it’s a good opportunity to be able to substitute Alex with Sylvain, who is a rider with strong and solid experience in racing, both in Superbike and MotoGP. He is a former World Champion in Superbike and he is already racing for Suzuki in the British Superbike Championship, so he is already part of the Suzuki family. With him we will try to carry on with the development of our GSX-RR, trying to improve it more and more.
“Also, during the races, hopefully we will be able to prepare an even more competitive package for Alex when he returns to us. Of course we hope this will happen very soon, that he is at 100%. In the meantime, we’ll try to fully take advantage of these races. I want to give a warm welcome to Sylvain from our team, and all we ask from him is to enjoy his time with us and make the most of this opportunity. We are also happy to give this small token of affection to our French fans, who will have another Frenchman racing the MotoGP in their home GP.”
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