FIM Endurance World Championship ace Sylvain Guintoli has revealed his plans for a four-wheel future – once he’s finished his successful career on two wheels.
A two-time winner of the Le Mans-based 24 Heures Motos, the traditional EWC season opener, Guintoli would relish a shot at winning the four-wheel equivalent, as he told UK title Motorsport News in an interview published last month.
“I love racing cars and I’ve done it in the past whenever I had a bit of time or an opportunity, but I never took it seriously,” the Yoshimura SERT Motul rider said. “I was kind of joking with some mates, but nobody has ever won the Le Mans 24-hour motorbike race and the car race. I know it’s a huge challenge and I completely understand the difficulty of it but if you want to do something big you’ve got to dream big don’t you? Since then, I can’t stop thinking about it so I’m going to try to build this project up.”
However, the 40-year-old is under no illusions that replicating his achievements on bikes in cars will be far from straight forward.
“It won’t be easy because there are loads of things I’ve got to learn, I’ve got to practice,” Guintoli said. “I’ve got to get better at everything and understand how this all works. But I want to do the 24-hour Le Mans car race at some point and I want to be competitive.
“You’ve got to pick your category and you’ve got to pick your fight so I’ve started to do some [club] racing because in cars you’ve got to do a certain amount of races to get the licence you need to drive GTs and the more powerful cars. Things are building and I’m going to try to get better and make it happen. It’s not a short-term project so we will see how it goes. But it’s a good story.”
Guintoli is certainly making progress in car racing. He was part of the TCR class-winning team that finished fifth overall in the Birkett Six-Hour Relay at Silverstone Circuit in Great Britain last October in a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR run by Capture Motorsport and backed by his EWC sponsor Motul.
“I did some races in Radicals years back, they are not hugely fast but they’ve got a bit of aero and slick tyres,” Guintoli said. “They’re not easy to drive fast but that’s a good thing [for learning]. The TCR thing was really good, different because it was front-wheel drive but really good fun. I also did a Mazda race a couple of weeks ago. That was a bit more like go-karting, bumping into each other but I want to learn the proper way, the basics.”
As a former test rider for Suzuki’s now disbanded factory MotoGP squad, Guintoli is well versed in the use of data, which he also believes will aid his transition.
“The way we work with data, and what your input is on the machine and what it does on track is very similar to car racing,” Guintoli said. “You are trying to understand the correct way to brake in a certain car and the correct technique to accelerate and to steer. All this data we use a lot in bikes, so it helps to understand the dynamics of the vehicles. But experience is the main thing. And although there are a lot of similarities [between bike and car racing] there are differences, there’s no pitching in a car or very little, for example.”
Despite having a roof over his head Guintoli says he’s not adopted a more gung-ho approach in car racing, which will put him in good stead for when he does make it to the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“Having done bikes for so long I don’t feel unsafe on a bike at all,” he says. “If I’m riding a bike on track or driving a car I don’t feel safer in a car, it’s a different exercise. You’ve got to get the best out of it in a different way. I’m never on a bike and thinking I could hurt myself, I’m thinking how can I go faster.
“Le Mans is a mid-term thing for me. It won’t be straight away because I want to do it when I’m ready, I want to be competitive. My feeling is you can learn to be decent and I don’t think it will take too much time but it’s the extra you want to achieve that will take longer.”
Guintoli and Yoshimura SERT Motul team-mates Gregg Black and Étienne Masson will resume their pursuit of EWC glory when Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium hosts the 24H SPA EWC Motos from 16-18 June, round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship season.