Five Questions With Sylvain Guintoli

Cycle News Staff | May 21, 2012

The following is from Miller Motorsports Park…

Miller Motorsports Park will again host the USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship on The BigM Weekend, May 26-28. As was the case last year, we will visit with race winners and other notable riders participating in the championship after each race during the 2012 season leading up to The BigM Weekend and bring you a new chapter in the “Five Questions with” series.

The subject of our second installment of the season is 29-year-old Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli, who rides the No. 50 Ducati 1098R for the Czech Republic-based Team Effenbert Liberty Racing. Sylvain started out in the 250 GP class in 2000, racing there through 2006 with a one-off MotoGP ride in 2002. He moved up to MotoGP full-time in 2007 through 2008. Unable to find a MotoGP ride in 2009, he switched to the British Superbike Championship, but jumped to World Superbike later that year with Suzuki when Max Neukirchner left to join Honda. His first full season in WSBK was 2010, and he finished seventh in the championship on the Suzuki. He moved to Team Effenbert Liberty Racing’s Ducatis in 2011, and finished sixth in the title chase despite having to come back from a serious accident in the first round of the season. This year he scored his first series win at Assen, where his wet-weather skills helped immensely.

It appears that one of the keys to your strong start in 2012 is not being injured, as you were at the start of 2011. Would you please talk about that injury, your recovery and what it means to be healthy this season? (David Swarts, Roadracing World)

Phillip Island, Australia, the first round of 2011. Everything seemed on target and, after a bad Race 1 start, I was pushing very hard to come back to the front. At 100-percent throttle in fourth gear, I suddenly lost rear grip and had the worst crash of my career. Initially, I felt so hurt I thought all my body was destroyed. It turned out that first feeling was not too far from reality! The road to full recovery was very long and painful in many ways, but I came back strong in the second half of the season, getting my confidence back. In WSBK the difference between winning and being outside the top 10 is very narrow, so riding fit means a great deal. The Superbikes are animals, and you need to ride them like one as well!

Sylvain, you are probably one of the most experienced riders in the world right now with time in 250 GP, MotoGP, World Superbike, BSB and Moto2. Can you talk about what specific skills you learned as a rider in each series? (Dean Adams, Superbike Planet)

There are a lot of techniques specific to each series, and to each bike in each series. We could write a book together about this! Probably the best skill I developed was wet riding in my 250 GP days. I rode some private bikes at the time, and these did not perform as good as the factory ones. It was difficult to enter the top 10 in dry conditions, but when the weather would play up, that was a chance to shine. I suppose I always kept that positive attitude about rain, and this has helped me with difficult conditions. The WSBK series is the best one for me so far. The bikes are very fun to ride; they slide and move a lot. On top of that, the racing is usually (very) entertaining; you get to fight a lot on track.

You haven’t been able to stay with the same team in the same championship for several years. How important is the stability of being on the same motorcycle with the same team in the same championship for consecutive years? (Henny Ray Abrams, Cycle News)

2012 is the first time I have ridden (almost) the same bike, in the same series, with the same people around me. So far we have managed to use our 2011 experience and gain from it. It helps because you already have a base setting, some data and experience from the year before, on all tracks. It saves a lot of time, allowing us to concentrate on different aspects of racing like power delivery and tire management.

With Moto3 replacing the 125cc Grand Prix class this season, MotoGP has now moved entirely to four-stroke machinery. Based on your two-stroke 250cc GP and four-stroke MotoGP/Superbike experience, do you think Moto2/3 with prototype chassis or World Supersport with production chassis is better preparation for Superbike? (Matthew Miles, Cycle World)

Probably World Supersport, as the bikes are also derived from the road. Chassis behavior and settings would be closer to Superbikes than the prototypes.

You seem to do pretty well at Miller Motorsports Park. In four races here, you’ve finished eighth and sixth in 2010 and third and seventh in 2011. Please talk about your impressions of Miller Motorsports Park, the best and worst parts of the circuit for you, how it fits your riding style and how well-suited you think the Kawasaki will be here this year. (Miller Motorsports Park)

Miller is one of my favorite tracks. I really enjoy the first flowing part, and also the fast chicane. With the altitude the bikes lose a bit of power, but there is still plenty to enjoy and put the bike sideways at every opportunity! I scored my first WSBK podium here last year, so it’s “happy days” coming back here for some racing action and fairing-bashing!

The May 28-30 BigM Weekend at Miller Motorsports Park will include the USA Round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, plus support races from AMA Pro Road Racing including the National Guard American SuperBike Championship, the GoPro Daytona SportBike Championship, the SuperSport Championship and the Vance & Hines XR1200 Championship, as well as the second annual DRIFT BigM Superbike Super Celebrity Mega Kart Showdown. There will also be live music throughout the weekend and a major tribute to our armed forces in recognition of Memorial Day.

To obtain tickets for or information about The BigM Weekend, or for information regarding Miller Motorsports Park, call 435-277-RACE (7223) or visit the track’s website at