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Sylvain Guintoli will be returning to the MotoGP™ grid at Le Mans, his home race, as he stands in for injured Alex Rins at Team Suzuki Ecstar. The 2014 WorldSBK Champion talked to motogp.com about the opportunity after his first tests on the bike in Jerez – and is eager to put on a good show at home.
First, you’ll be lining up on the MotogGP™ grid again, and for your home GP. What does that mean to you?
“For a rider, being on the grid to start your home race – and on an official machine – is an incredible pleasure. And it also brings back some memories – it’s a long time since I rode a MotoGP™ bike.”
You’ve had the chance to test the bike in Jerez. First impressions?
“I was so impatient because the GSX-RR is one of the best bikes at the moment, but it’s even better than I expected. The engine character, how light it us, how the electronics work, the anti-wheelie…riding a MotoGP bike is an incredible experience. I also already know Jerez well and I’m not short of references. So it was a great pleasure for me to do some laps on Monday afternoon. We got down to work more the following day, to start finding a good feeling. Overall it went well so I’m pretty happy with the tests.”
You’re a very experienced rider but it’s a long time since you last rode in MotoGP™. What did you think would be the biggest challenge?
“Before riding the bike, I was mainly thinking about the tyres because each manufacturer has different characteristics. The last time I rode Michelins was in 2002 with the 500 cc Tech 3. But the adaptation went well. I just need to find that final touch, although the initial feeling was really good. The Suzuki gives you confidence and at the same time is very powerful – the Superbike is similar but with the MotoGP™ machine in never stops.”
Did Suzuki ask you for any specific feedback on the GSX-RR?
“I think it’s interesting for Suzuki to get the opinion of another rider to compare the information. The test was very productive, we worked on my feeling with the bike, the electronics, but also on the chassis and tyres. I hope I was able to give them some useful comments. But I think we’ve established a good base to begin working from.”
Finally, do you have a specific objective for the GP?
“I want to do well, that’s for sure. But I’m also aware of the difficulty of the challenge. More than a placement, I’ll be happy to have adapted well to the tyres and the bike and extracted the most I can given the limited time. I also want to give something back to Suzuki for having given me this opportunity. And then of course coming back in front of the home fans will give me a lot of good memories. The experience is sure to be amazing. After that, if everything goes well, the result will follow.”
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