Team Suzuki Press Office – February 22. FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier got the team’s 2013 eni FIM Superbike World Championship campaign off to a fine start today as he recorded the fourth quickest time during the first qualifying session.
Camier has shown strongly all week at the Australian circuit throughout the pre-season tests and continued with this vein of form during this morning’s first free practice session, where he finished third, and then by taking fourth – and a provisional second row start for Sunday’s races – this afternoon. Camier’s Yoshimura-powered GSX-R performed equally well and looked very much at home on the newly resurfaced and very fast 4,445m Phillip Island track, as he recorded a best time of 1’31.608 from his 16-laps in QP1. The Englishman will now look to consolidate his position in tomorrow’s second qualifying session to guarantee his place in the afternoon Superpole, to give him every chance of securing a good grid position for Sunday’s two races.
Jules Cluzel made a steady and solid start to his first weekend of competitive action in the Superbike class. He completed 33 laps of the Australian circuit during the two sessions and produced a fastest time 1’32.801 to give him 18th place on the timesheets. Cluzel is gradually re-growing in confidence following the three big crashes he had in the tests and is confident he can make Superpole after tomorrow’s final qualifying.
Today’s warm and sunny conditions produced air and track temperatures of 26°C and 40°C respectively, but the strong gusting winds made conditions difficult for all riders. Michel Fabrizio on an Aprilia clocked the fastest time of the day.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will have a second qualifying session tomorrow morning where Camier and Cluzel will endeavour to confirm their places in the top-15 to make sure they are in the afternoon’s Superpole.
“I never felt quite as comfortable out there today as I did in the tests, the conditions had changed quite a bit – the wind was in a different direction and it was a bit hotter. I struggled to get in one quick lap, but the quickest one that I did achieve I managed to do three or four of them in a row. If I could have put together a perfect lap I’m sure I could have been right up there and a good step quicker. All-in-all it’s not too bad, but with the change of conditions again it has altered the way the bike works and feels, so we’ve got to be really understanding of that come race-day. Also for one lap we need to understand exactly what we need to do for the conditions and how to manage it to get a good lap and grid position for Sunday.”
“I’m not so happy, because I am lower than where I wanted to be after first qualifying and we also lost a bit of time at the end due to a technical issue. We now have only tomorrow morning to try to improve things and get in the top-15 for Superpole. It would be a good experience for me to be in Superpole, because I have never tried a qualifying tyre, so I am looking to do this. We lost something during the crash the other day, because my best lap time today was not as fast as the one I did on my second exit during the first day of the test, but we have time tomorrow to improve and make sure we’re ready for the first races of the year.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It’s nice to get the 2013 World Superbike season started and today was very solid on Leon’s side and a little bit frustrating for Jules. One of Leon’s strong points as a rider is his ability to maintain lap-time when the tyres have suffered a lot of wear and he did that this morning by setting his fastest lap with over 20-laps on the rear tyre. This afternoon – even though he didn’t quite churn out the ultimate lap-time that he would liked to have done – the rhythm was still very positive and he’s looking good for race distance.
“For Jules, today was a case of ‘start again’ and regain his confidence. This morning’s session was very smooth and solid and he was building nicely this afternoon until he had a very unfortunate technical problem, which we are sure we will have a solution to and it won’t affect the bikes for the rest of the weekend. There is a lot to learn for Jules and the nature of this track is making it even more difficult, but we absolutely believe that his raw speed and talent will see him through to a much better result tomorrow and on race-day.”
Phillip Island – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – First Qualifying: 1. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 1’31.317: 2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1’31.392: 3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1’31.539: 4. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1’31.608: 5. Chaz Davies (BMW) 1’31.638. 18. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1’32.801.