Sylvain Guintoli mulling 2023 WorldSBK return after Suzuki axe?

Suzuki MotoGP development rider and 2014 WorldSBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli says reveals he is considering a return to the production series in 2023

Sylvain Guintoli - Aprilia Racing

Sylvain Guintoli has revealed he is in discussions to make a surprise return to the WorldSBK Championship in 2023 as he considers his options following Suzuki’s decision to quit motorsport.

One of WorldSBK’s most decorated riders, the Frenchman famously defeated Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty in a final round showdown to clinch the 2014 WorldSBK Championship title for Aprilia.

However, the nine-time race winner has not contested a full season in WorldSBK since 2015 and has predominantly spent the last few years in a development role at the Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP team.

Credited as a pivotal driving force behind Suzuki’s 2020 MotoGP title win, Guintoli’s tenure with the Japanese firm is however now coming to an end following its bombshell call to scrub its motorsport programme.

A decision that also scuppers his deal with the Yoshimura Suzuki Endurance World Championship team, free agent Guintoli - who was this week gifted a one-off Hayabusa as a thank you for his development work - has revealed he could chart a course back to WorldSBK for next season

"At the moment I don't know in which direction I'm going,” the ex-MotoGP rider told Speedweek. “I'm on the market for next year and the future and I'm talking to a lot of different teams and manufacturers. 

"I have to find out what is possible for me. There are interesting opportunities as a test rider, but I also believe that I can still be competitive in the Superbike or Endurance World Championships and I'm looking around there. 

"I'm one of the most experienced riders and have the necessary speed.”

Pressed on where he could find himself next season, Guintoli hints that discussions have taken place with Puccetti Kawasaki, a team with which he achieved four top eight results in his most recent WorldSBK outing in 2017.

“At the end of the 2017 season I did a few races for the Puccetti Kawasaki team, which was very positive. 

"At Donington I spoke to Manuel Puccetti and some other teams, let's see what happens. He has a very good team and has made some steps forward since 2017."

Following a modest two-season stint in MotoGP, Guintoli made headlines with a shock switch into the British Superbike Championship in 2009, winning on his debut before injury ruined his title aspirations.

However, after switching to WorldSBK in 2010 with Suzuki, Guintoli would go on to race Ducati, Aprilia, Honda and Yamaha machinery, while he is famed for finishing 155 of the 170 WorldSBK races he started, including 43 races on the bounce.