News 20 Oct 2009

WSBK: Suzuki looks forward to finishing season 2009 on a high


Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli will make his Team Suzuki Alstare debut in the last round of this year’s Superbike World Championship at the Autodromo Algarve in Portimao this coming weekend. Sylvain has already finished his season in the British Superbike Championship and joins the Suzuki Alstare this week, as a replacement for the injured Max Neukirchner, and will begin his preparation for next year’s Superbike World Championship with the team. It will be Sylvain’s first time at the technically difficult and demanding circuit and so he will start the weekend learning the track and working with his new team. Portimao will be Yukio Kagayama’s last race for Team Suzuki Alstare after five years of loyal service. The popular Japanese rider is returning to the British Superbike Championship, where he has a lot of fans, but is determined to sign off in style.

It’s hard to describe my feelings about racing for a factory team like Suzuki Alstare next weekend. Originally, I thought that I would be carrying on with Suzuki in the British Championship, but then an offer came along, at the last minute, for me to race in the Superbike World Championship and I just couldn’t say no. It is a fantastic opportunity and I would like to thank Francis (Batta), Suzuki Japan, Suzuki GB and all concerned for giving this great chance.

I have seen on TV how competitive World Superbikes is and I am really looking forward to this challenge. The series is exciting and very tough and I think it is going to be a big, but wonderful challenge, for us all.

I have never ridden at Portimao before, but I know that it is quite technical and there are many changes of elevation and lots of blind corners. That means that I will have to start off by learning which way the track goes and take my time getting to know that and my new team. The good thing is that I am under no pressure in Portimao and will be able to use the weekend to get to know the bike and the team before getting down to the hard work in the winter tests. I am going to do my best, of course, but I hope I can get on with the bike and the team quickly and also have some fun.

It is no secret that this season has been quite hard for me and my team, but recently things have been going much better. It’s a little sad leaving Suzuki Alstare after such a long time because I have made so many friends and have had a good time with them. But, things change and I will go to the BSB next year and try my best to win the championship. I have many friends and fans in UK, so this will not be difficult for me. Before I go though, I would like to finish with a podium or two in Portimao so that I can say a big thank you to the team and Francis.