Team Suzuki Press Office – March 31. Crescent Fixi Suzuki’s Leon Camier and John Hopkins will start tomorrow’s Imola World Superbike second round in Italy from the fourth and fifth rows of the grid, confident of making good starts and fighting for top-10 positions.
Both riders lost time in this morning’s qualifying session – Camier had a small low-side and Hopkins suffered a technical issue – but fortunately uninjured, Camier qualified for Superpole with the seventh-fastest lap. Hopkins, however, managed just eight laps in total in the same session which was not enough to get up to speed and make Superpole.
Leon Camier – 15th, 1:48.415:
“I lost time in the qualifying session this morning after a slow-speed crash. The rear end was chattering and I just lost the front. There was no problem with me, but the bike had to be rebuilt and that meant I lost the rest of that session and also about 10 minutes of the next one.
“I’m happy with the chassis, but I am looking forward to further engine developments from Yoshimura. I went out on a race tyre in Superpole but made a little mistake so came back to the pits for a ‘Qualifier.’ Even before I reached the first turn, the bike was wobbling and then chattering as I went into the corner; I’ve no idea why, but there was nothing wrong with the bike! I came back to the pits, but wasn’t able to get back out in time on another tyre to set a decent lap in time to progress to Superpole 2.”
John Hopkins – 19th, 1:49.790:
“I was looking forward to this morning’s session and putting in the laps, but the bike had a technical problem and I wasn’t able to get out on the track for as much time as I would’ve liked: That messed up my qualification for Superpole, but sometimes things happen like that. The team put in a new engine for the second session and after a few laps I started to become more-and-more comfortable with the bike. We made a few suspension changes, which made the bike more stable, and I was really getting back in the groove by the end of the afternoon.
“I’ve had a long lay-off and, although I am physically fit, I need to get bike-fit as well. The more laps I do, the sooner I’ll be able to get on the pace. I normally make good starts and that’s my aim tomorrow; that and picking up a decent number of points.”
Jack Valentine – Team Manager:
“I feel very positive about Leon. He’s put in the laps and has a pretty good race set-up. At one stage today he was third quickest and that’s very encouraging. Unfortunately, he had a bit of a tip-off and lost time. The team then did a great job to get the bike rebuilt and ready for the afternoon session and Leon was able to run for most of the session. I was looking forward to his Superpole but he didn’t feel comfortable on his Qualifier tyre. There was a lack of grip and quite a bit of chatter which was enough to prevent him getting into Superpole 2.
“I had set a target for John – to get into Superpole – and would have been really happy if he had managed it. If it hadn’t been for the problem in the morning, which resulted in the engine having to be changed, I think he might even have done it. This is a very physical track and John is still getting back to race fitness after a long spell off the bike, but I am very pleased with his progress and attitude. He’s a good starter, so who knows what’ll happen tomorrow, but I can see him picking-up places in the opening laps for sure. I feel the Suzuki is showing its potential and is capable of being competitive. That’s down to the all the good work done by the team and our partners Yoshimura.”
Final WSB Qualifying: 1 Sykes (GBR-Kawasaki) 1:46.748, 2 Guintoli (FRA-Ducati) 1:47.221, 3 Checa (ESP-Ducati) 1:47.423, 4 Haslam (GBR-BMW) 1:47.458, 5 Biaggi (ITA-Aprilia) 1:47.611, 6 Melandri (ITA-BMW) 1:47.642. 15 Leon Camier (GBR-Crescent Fixi Suzuki) 1:48.415. 19 John Hopkins (USA-Crescent Fixi Suzuki) 1:49.790.