20 October 2019 02:36

Sylvain Guintoli Grand Prix motorcycle racing Team Suzuki Ecstar

Suzuki blames "hazy" MotoGP wildcard/engine rules for exclusion

You have now reached your limit of 15 stories this month. Register for free and continue reading - or Start Your Free Trial and get unlimited access. Register for free Get 10 bonus articles Subcribe to Autosport Plus Get unlimited access I already have an account. Sign in Are you a magazine subscriber? Activate your Plus account Suzuki admitted that a 'misunderstanding' of the rules led to Sylvain Guintoli using a prototype 2020 engine during Friday practice for the Japanese MotoGP.

The wild-card was subsequently disqualified from both Friday sessions by the FIM Stewards, having contravened of the Grand Prix Regulations, which states: Wild Card entries using machines from an MSMA manufacturer currently entered in the MotoGP class are subject to all technical regulations related to their specific manufacturer, including engine specification, ECU hardware and software, sensor approval and free device checking. In other words, a change of engine specification is not allowed during the season. No attempt was made to conceal Guintoli's new parts, Suzuki confirming use of a prototype 2020 engine in their own Friday press release, with Guintoli saying: "We're working on our 2020 engine and already we're getting positive feelings, data, and feedback. Today my lap times weren't bad, and I managed to set my best lap in Motegi, so that felt good." As such, the team clearly thought the engine modifications were legal for a wild-card rider and team manager Davide Brivio stated on Saturday evening: "Yesterday we had a misunderstanding in regard to the regulations which meant that we had to swap the engine on Sylvain's bike this morning." Guintoli, who had been 20th on Friday, went on to set the fifth-fastest time in the wet Saturday morning session before qualifying 21st in the dry. Regular Suzuki riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir will start Sunday's race from eleventh and twelfth respectively.

"I'm a bit disappointed because I fought hard to come through Q1 and then I couldn't fulfil the potential in Q2," said double 2019 race winner Rins. "I will start from 11th tomorrow and I will attack, 'full gas', to give Suzuki a good result at home." "I wanted a bit more out of today, I knew I could do better," added rookie Mir. "On the last laps in Q2 the track was drier, and my feeling was so much better, but then I went wide on my last flying lap and I lost some time. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and I'll give my all to fight with the front group." Suzuki is known to be seeking a top speed increase for 2020, albeit without losing the GSX-RR's strong cornering ability. Test rider Guintoli is making his fourth race appearance this year on the GSX-RR this weekend at Motegi, and ran a prototype version of Suzuki's '20 engine on Friday - the Frenchman saying he was encouraged by its performance.

But the stewards subsequently excluded him from the FP1 and FP2 results for running an engine deemed illegal under homologation rules. As a result, Suzuki also had to revert Guintoli to a current-spec motor for Saturday. "Suzuki misunderstood the regulation," team boss Davide Brivio told Motorsport.com. "We thought that, as a wildcard, it was fine for Guintoli to run the new spec engine. "The regulation is a bit hazy, but of course we accepted [the ruling] and we swapped back to the current-spec [engine]." As Suzuki is one of four manufacturers – along with Honda, Yamaha and Ducati – to run without concessions, its engines are frozen for the year prior to the first race.

This rule extends to wildcard riders for non-concession manufacturers. Guintoli, who qualified 21st for Suzuki's home event, branded the Suzuki's running of an illegal engine as a simple misinterpretation of the rules. "Obviously what happened was a mistake of interpretation of the rule," he said. "So we corrected it this morning before FP3, and rightly so the times were taken off from yesterday. "In a sense of the rule I kind of agree [that this rule shouldn't apply to test riders], but it is what it is – we are not contesting anything." Guintoli says Suzuki was only told about the ruling "not long" before FP3, and praised the efforts of his team to swap out the engines as quick as they did.

"We were told this morning not a long time before FP3," he added. "The guys did a great [job]. It was not long before FP3, so they did a great job swapping [the engines]. "I only had one bike for FP3, [they] swapped the engine quickly back to this year's spec so I could do FP3, and I only started five minutes late." Ecstar Suzuki factory test rider and Japanese MotoGP wild card participant Sylvain Guintoli has been disqualified from FP1 and FP2 for a miscommunication on the engine used by the Frenchman in Motegi. The Frenchman was notified by the stewards that his opening day had been disqualified after a miscommunication saw the wild card rider run the 2020 GSX-RR engine in his bike. Rule states that wild card riders must use the engines approved for the current season there can be no changes made. Suzuki had been very open in admitting that they made changes to the engine of the Frenchman's bike, therefore breaking the rules. Guintoli's weekend isn't over, with the team fitting the 2019 engine back in his bike, allowing him to continue for the weekend, with the team's gaffe costing them the work from the opening day. The wild card rider ended the day in 21st position, only ahead of Andrea Iannone and the pit-lane starting Tito Rabat. Sylvain Guintoli was disqualified from the first two free practice sessions at Motegi. The decision was made by the FIM Stewards Panel after the technical inspections carried out on his motorcycle. In fact, the commissioners analyzed the engines used by the French rider and discovered they were prototypes for the 2020 engine. Point of the regulation provides that wild cards (like Guintoli) must use the engines approved for the current season and there can be no changes made. However, Suzukibvdecided to try new parts, therefore, going against the regulation. That's why Sylvain was disqualified from the FP1 and FP2 but was able to take part in the FP3 and continue the race weekend once a regulated engine was installed.