Former World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli's first experience at the Suzuka 8 Hour was very much bittersweet, with the Frenchman expressing disappointment at missing out on a podium challenge, while simultaneously feeling pride at his Yoshimura Suzuki team's thrilling comeback.

Guintoli and Josh Brookes had expressed quiet confidence of the team's chances of causing an upset after impressing throughout the qualifying heats, which resulted in a second place on the grid.

Their hopes of doing so soon came undone however, with third rider Takuya Tsuda starting poorly before crashing at the hairpin, attempting to make up time, on lap two. The resultant repairs forced the team back to 67th and last, leaving them with the daunting task of rising through the order.

The three riders were however undeterred, and set about catching the top ten. By the seventh hour, the top ten was breached, and at the chequered flag seventh place was just reward for a spirited showing.

"It was a first time at the Suzuka 8 Hours, so we had great experience and relationship with the Yoshimura team," said Guintoli, who filled in for the injured Alex Rins in Suzuki's MotoGP squad at three races this year. "All the experience was great. In the racing, unfortunately, we crashed really early on and we lost five laps.

"Then it was a big, big fight, and we managed to come back four laps. It was a big push by everybody - Takuya, Josh and myself – but obviously, we are disappointed.

"But there were some positives, the new 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 was working very well. You know that is racing, sometimes this happens. We were pushing really hard. I want to thank the Yoshimura team for this experience and I hope we can do it again soon and win it."

Tsuda admitted his bad start had led to his desire to do too much, too soon, and demonstrated he still has some way to go to improve as a rider.

"I missed the start and was left behind but I tried to catch-up in too-much hurry, and collided with other machine and fell, which I regret," said the Japanese rider, who made his MotoGP race debut for Suzuki at this year's Spanish Grand Prix.

"But I am thankful to my team and the other riders for doing their best to finish seventh after being in last place. This race made me think that I have to get stronger, and there's still room for me to grow as a racing rider."

By Neil Morrison

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