2011 World Superbike
For Effenbert-Liberty Racing Ducati rider Sylvain Guintoli, the 2011 World Superbike season was going very well, right up to a crash in the first race of the year which put paid to his dreams of being a contender in only his second full WSBK season.
With a top level Ducati twin, a well-funded and organized World Superbike team, and proven pace and motivation to succeed in testing and qualifying, the British-based Frenchman was all set to make an attack on each podium in Australia.
It was not to be, as his high-speed fall was to have long reaching, if not immediately apparent, consequences.
Sylvain Guintoli (Team Effenbert-Liberty Ducati Superbike) says: “The start of the season was a bit of a disaster, because I love that bike. In Australia, before the crash I was never out of the top three and then I had an accident and since then I have just been fighting to come back to fitness.
“The situation is that in Phillip Island I was initially told that I was fine and that all I had was big bruising. But I struggled at the next round at Donington and it was difficult to race. We rechecked the areas where I was still having pain afterwards and I had a double fracture of my hand and a fracture as well of my left ankle. I also had a bit of ligament damage on the left leg, all the way up to the knee. The Donington race was the most awful one I have ever done, even though I really like that track, because I could not ride properly.”
Even after realizing his issues, and battling on bravely at the next World Superbike round at Assen, the fates had another brick to hurl Sylvain’s way.
Sylvain Guintoli says: “In Assen when Kuba (his teammate Jakub Smrz) fell I was behind I could not avoid him and crashed. I damaged the cruciate ligament in my right knee, so now I have a loose knee is well – which is nice! That is not such a big problem to race a motorbike, but it is one of those things.”
Maybe the most difficult thing for Sylvain to deal with has been watching some other top Ducati World Superbike riders put in strong results – wins for championship leader Checa and a near win at Donington for Smrz – while he has had to grit his teeth in pain just to race.
Sylvain Guintoli says: “We have a great bike. I did my best result in race two at Monza, seventh, and it is a really bad circuit for us because it is a power circuit. So for us it was going to be really bad in theory but we made a good result and I am back to some kind of form now. The next few tracks, Miller, Misano, Aragon, are good for our bike so I am expecting a lot now from this.
“I am feeling better physically even though I am not 100%, I really like the bike and get on well with it and it is working very well. The team management put a lot of effort into the quality of the material on the bike and if you go that way you minimize the risk of problems. I have plenty of motivation and I know what the bike can do. The results the other riders like Carlos and Kuba have been doing just made more frustration.
“By making a tiny little mistake in Australia I basically ruined the start of my season. It is not the end of the world but I am really far behind in the standings, so now it is about showing some pace and results and not thinking about the championship. It has been good to see the Ducatis doing so well, but for me it was more frustration. It was a very high price to bear for such a tiny little mistake, but that is racing.”