Defending World Champions Suzuki Endurance Racing Team has drafted in 22-year-old Baptiste Guittet for this weekend's fourth round of the World Endurance Championship at Le Mans in France after both regular riders Freddy Foray and Vincent Philippe were deemed unfit to race at the last minute.
French Junior Supersport Champion Guittet, who was born and lives in Le Mans, has joined team regulars Anthony Delhalle and Daisaku Sakai for the penultimate round of the series at SERT's home circuit.
Foray, who suffered a head injury at a French Championship race at Magny Cours in July, was told by Doctors on Monday that he was unfit to race at this level; and Philippe crashed and broke his collarbone in testing and practicing for the race on Tuesday.
This left the 10-times World Champions just days to find a replacement third-rider to keep the team's 2011 World Championship hopes alive - a series it currently holds second place, six points down on leaders BMW Motorrad 99.
The team spent the following days trying to find a suitable replacement, and according to SERT's Remi Vulliet: "We called riders from World Superbike, AMA, BSB and Japanese Superbikes, but nobody could get here on time or was free to race. We asked Baptiste Guittet to join us and today is his first time on the official GSX-R1000 machine in practice and qualifying. It is not easy for him as it is his first time in EWC category."
Today's first free practice session saw BMW Motorrad France 99 riders Sebastien Gimbert, Erwan Nigon and Damian Cudlin take the fastest time with a 1'38.455 lap.
In a dramatic session that witnessed several crashes, including second-placed Yamaha Racing France GMT 94 iPhone's David Checa and third-placed SRC Kawasaki on a bike that subsequently caught fire, SERT finished fifth on the timesheets with 1:39.239.
BAPTISTE GUITTET INFORMATION:
Name: Baptiste Guittet Nickname: Bat Date of Birth: 26/03/1989 Home Town: Le Mans Height: 1.73m Weight: 67kg Occupation: House Painter Favourite food: Lasagne Favourite track: Magny-Cours Favourite rider: Troy Bayliss Hobbies: Motorsports, mountains, competition First bike: Honda QR 50 Personal vehicle: KTM 125 Goals: To become World Champion