Team Suzuki Press Office – February 23. FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Leon Camier qualified in seventh position during this afternoon’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship Superpole at Phillip Island in Australia.
Camier made his way through to this afternoon’s Superpole by finishing second in this morning’s final qualifying practice. He then progressed to the third and final Superpole on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 by finishing fifth and seventh respectively in Superpole 1 and 2. The Englishman used a Pirelli race compound rear tyre in the last session to record his quickest lap, giving him a start at the head of the third row for tomorrow’s double header. Camier is confident for the races, because he has proved his pace over race distance in practice and is looking forward to the start of the new season.
Jules Cluzel was on the unfortunate side of a technical issue which stopped his final qualifying session after only four-laps. The Frenchman had already showed a good turn of pace and reduced his best lap-time from yesterday’s first qualifying by almost 0.4 seconds, but was forced to watch the rest of the session as his crew worked feverishly to try and get him back on track. Cluzel’s time of 1’32.402 gave him 17th on the timesheets, narrowly missing out on a place in Superpole. His crew managed to remedy the issue at the end of final practice session and Cluzel immediately showed impressive speed as he clocked the 13th quickest time, which helped him to restore some of his confidence ahead of tomorrow’s two races.
Today’ weather produced warm and sunny conditions around the 4,445m Australian track, with air temperatures reaching 26°C. Carlos Checa on a Ducati secured pole position, with the Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Michel Fabrizio filling the rest of the front row. Today also saw the first running of the ‘FIXI Crescent Suzuki Watches of Distinction Qualifying Challenge’, where Camier and Cluzel will compete against each other to win a fantastic Franck Muller watch at the end of the season as the team’s best qualifier, with Camier taking the honours today and taking an early lead in the competition for this distinctive timepiece.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will head out on to the Phillip Island circuit for the first round of the season tomorrow lunchtime, as the opening 22-lap race gets underway at 12.00hrs local time (01.00hrs GMT), with the second event scheduled to start at 15.30hrs local time (04.30 GMT).
“I’m not really bowled over with the result in qualifying, but I think our race-pace is a little bit better than seventh. It’s going to be a really hard race tomorrow though, no matter what, because there are a lot of people that can do very good race times. We need to improve in the final sector and get dragged down the straight by the fastest bikes, if we can do that the job will be a little easier. I’ll be hoping to get a strong start tomorrow, the third row means that a good start is even more crucial, so to have a decent race I need to get off the line well, be quite clever on the tactics and hopefully have the pace at the end of the race to do well.”
“It has been a strange day because I expected to improve this morning, but after just one fast lap, I had to come in because I had a problem with my engine. This meant no qualifying for me and no chance to improve any more. This afternoon I was looking to do something good in free practice because I wasn’t in the Superpole, but after one lap there was a strange sound from the engine and I had to come back in and the guys needed to open it up to find out what was the problem. We lost a lot of time, but I was able to do two quick laps at the end and my time was better than yesterday. In the three full laps today I improved on every one, so I think my pace was quite good. I haven’t tried a long run yet and I have never been able to do a really fast lap, so I am a little bit frustrated. Tomorrow is the most important day of the weekend and before I came here the main thing was to learn, but tomorrow I still need to discover more because I am a rookie and I have lost a lot of time, so I will have to make up for it on Sunday!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Today was a carbon-copy of yesterday in many ways. A very solid performance all day from Leon and an extremely frustrating and disappointing day for Jules. He had some real bad luck with a relatively minor technical problem, but one which takes a long time to fix and doesn’t allow the bike to run properly. The team worked extremely hard to get Jules back out at the end of free practice and the only real positive on his side was that he got down into the low 32s on his two-timed laps. Tomorrow will be a learning experience, it’s been a tough introduction for him in to the Superbike class, but the whole team is confident he will show well in the races.
“For Leon, qualifying was not too bad at all, but it’s easy to be disappointed with seventh when you’ve been regularly in the top-three all week. The very positive point is that Leon’s qualifying time was done on a race tyre and that – except for the final sector – he’s competitive with the fastest guys over a lap. Come the race, that problem should largely disappear, in that there will be a group of riders towing each other along and tactically the race will be extremely different to qualifying: It will be about who has the best package left beneath them at the end of 22-laps. I think that the FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Leon are in good shape for both of the races.”
eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Phillip Island Superpole Classification: 1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’30.234: 2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’30.429: 3. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1’30.581: 4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’30.615: 5. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’30.615. 7. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1’30.683. 17. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1’32.402.