The WorldSBK grid at Jerez will be full of replacement riders, as injury takes its toll, not just on the regular riders, but also on possible replacements. Sylvain Guintoli is to step in and replace the still injured and departing Randy Krummenacher in the Kawasaki Puccetti team for the rest of the season, the Swiss rider having previously fractured his wrist. Guintoli will ride for the Puccetti team in both the remaining rounds this year, at Jerez and at Qatar.
The replacement ride is also something of an audition. Guintoli and Puccetti are believed to still be negotiating over a possibility the Frenchman could ride for them in 2018 in WorldSBK.
There is a replacement in Puccetti's WorldSSP team as well. With Kenan Sofuoglu almost certain to miss Jerez and Qatar, Ant West will be riding one of the Puccetti bikes. Leon Haslam had originally been scheduled to race Sofuoglu's bike, but the Englishman fractured an ankle in a major crash in the final race of the BSB championship at Brands Hatch this weekend.
Below are the press releases announcing the changes:
Guintoli Joins Kawasaki Puccetti For Final WorldSBK Rounds
2014 FIM Superbike World Champion Sylvain Guintoli will join the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Team for the final two rounds of the 2017 WorldSBK season, starting this coming weekend at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.
Having just completed a season in the British Superbike Championship the French rider has decided to make his return into the WorldSBK paddock with the Reggio Emilia based Kawasaki Puccetti Racing squad.
Guintoli, who rode for many years in both 250cc Grands Prix and MotoGP, before winning nine WorldSBK races and subsequently the title itself, will make his comeback on two track layouts – Jerez and Losail - that he knows very well. This will also be his first ever experience riding a Kawasaki machine in WorldSBK.
Sylvain Guintoli, stated: “I am very happy to be back in the FIM Superbike World Championship for the last two rounds of the season. Jerez and Doha are fantastic race tracks and I have many memories related to these layouts. I can’t wait to try the ZX-10RR machine and I would like to thank both Manuel and Kawasaki for this great opportunity.”
Manuel Puccetti, Team Principal, stated: “We are really happy to have a top rider as Sylvain on our bike for the final stages of the season. Guintoli is a strong rider with a great experience as he was riding in MotoGP for many years. We hope that the team will grow even more thanks to his work.”
All Change For Penultimate WorldSSP Round
The Jerez de la Frontera round of the 2017 WorldSSP championship takes place this coming weekend in southern Spain with five-times World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu ruled out of the action through injury. There will be a new line-up of official Kawasaki Puccetti Racing WorldSSP riders in Spain, with Axel Bassani and Anthony West competing for the Italian based team.
Despite a hip injury sustained in a crash during Superpole at the previous round in France, Kenan Sofuoglu still aims to return racing in 2017. The condition of the Turkish rider, who went back to his home country directly after his accident, is constantly improving, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to come back to action for the final round of the year in Qatar.
The 2016 European WorldSSP Champion Axel Bassani will replace Sofuoglu at Jerez. After a positive seventh place at Misano earlier in the year, riding on board Michael Canducci’s Kawasaki ZX-6R machine, the Italian rider aims to complete the Spanish round with a strong performance to help win the 2017 Teams’ title for Kawasaki Puccetti. Alongside Bassani, Australian rider Anthony West will ride in the WorldSSP class this weekend.
On the completion of the Jerez round the championship finale will be held on Saturday 4th November, at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Axel Bassani, stated: “I am really happy to be able to get back racing! I was waiting for a similar chance for months and finally it arrived. I will give my best to replace the world champion. Now I will focus only on the race weekend.”
Manuel Puccetti stated: “In WorldSSP the Riders’ title seems already impossible to win, but we won’t give up on the Teams’ title. Canducci, Bassani and West will try to get into the top 5 this weekend.”
Michael Canducci (3570 Puccetti Racing FMI Kawasaki) will start his Spanish weekend sitting 15th in the championship table, Kazuki Watanabe (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) is currently in 18th place.
Part-time ESS rider Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Jenik Against Cancer Kawasaki) sits 20th, Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) is still 21st and series regular Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) starts his home round in 27th place.
Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) is on the same points score as Calero, in 28th place, while Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) remains 34th.