Team Suzuki Press Office – February 24. FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Jules Cluzel marked his debut in the eni FIM Superbike World Championship by taking an impressive seventh place in this afternoon’s second race at Phillip Island in Australia.
Cluzel got a good start to the second race and was up into eighth by the end of lap one. He maintained a strong rhythm and made his way to sixth as the race progressed. Cluzel then got involved in a battle with last-year’s championship runner-up Tom Sykes before the British rider pushed Cluzel back into seventh, a position he held until the end of the race despite coming under intense pressure from Jonathan Rea in the closing stages. Cluzel had made a strong start to his rookie season in Superbikes by finishing 11th in race one on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R1000 after starting from 17th on the grid. The Frenchman’s results today were just reward for him and his crew following the string of misfortune and frustration that had hit him throughout the test and then the race weekend in Australia, and leaves him on a positive footing as he heads to the next test and race.
Leon Camier scored a pair of ninth place finishes at the 4,445m Phillip Island track today, but both under different circumstances. In race one he got a poor start and was battling all race long to make up places. He ended lap-one in 13th but fought his way to ninth at two-thirds distance and following a battle to the line with Rea, the FIXI Crescent Suzuki rider just couldn’t get past him at the line to take eighth. In race two, Camier was the innocent victim of a first lap crash which forced the Englishman off the track He re-joined in last place and then had the task of chasing down the field. Camier made up time to the pack and began picking off riders, eventually making his way to ninth on lap-19 after passing Leon Haslam. He pushed all the way to the line, but was unable to make up any more places and was left to think of what might have been in the second race.
Today’s weather was again warm and sunny with a light breeze, air temperatures got up to 27°C and the fine weather led to a weekend attendance of 61,500 over the three days. Race one was won by Sylvain Guintoli on an Aprilia, with Ireland’s Eugene Laverty – also on an Aprilia – taking the honours in the second event. Guintoli and Laverty share the championship lead as the pair also took a second place apiece today.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will now head back to England for a short break before the next race at Aragon in Spain on Sunday April 14th. The next time the team takes to the track will also be at Aragon for a private test at the start of April.
“I am really happy with both races, even though the first one was very difficult, but I finished and learned a lot. We chose the wrong tyre in the first race, which was not a big problem because I need to learn and understand everything. I needed to do some laps today and I think in the two races today I did more laps than I had done all weekend – and maybe the test as well! It’s really good to finish the weekend like this and I am pleased for my team as well because they have had a tough time and worked really hard to get me on the track. I think today has been a good step for the future.”
“The first race was really difficult and the bike just didn’t feel like anything we’d been working on over the weekend. We really struggled and we made the wrong tyre choice – by the end of the race the tyre was destroyed! This was very strange because all weekend we’d done race runs on the tyres and it hadn’t shown wear like that. I’d put in good laps on used tyres in the test and during practice, so we were confident that it would work, but whatever the reason is, it didn’t!
“I got a better start in race two and tried to make some places up early on, but as I tried to go round the outside coming into a corner there was a big crash in front of me and I got taken out and on to the grass – so that was really the end of the race for me! The rest of the time was just spent catching up and racing with some other guys. I had to try and do what I could and I could see Jules and Johnny Rea coming back to me really quickly so I kept pushing, but just couldn’t get up to them. It’s frustrating because I felt that in the second race we had the package to challenge the front pack.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We will leave Australia after these two weeks in Phillip Island with a positive outlook because, irrespective of two quite disappointing results for Leon caused by the wrong tyre choice in race one and being knocked off the track in race two, we’ve still shown great potential and it’s clear that the bike is at a different level than it was 12-months ago. The whole team and both the riders have been superbly positive, despite a few issues – including five absolutely massive crashes in total! The guys have worked incredibly hard to be in good shape come race-day.
“Jules has shown that he is absolutely not scared of getting involved with the best Superbike riders in the world and we know very well that Leon’s potential – and that of the bike – is a lot better than two ninth places. We have a three-day test at Aragon at the start of April, where we have some new stuff coming to improve the bike further, and we’re really excited about the prospects for the season.”
Phillip Island – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race One: 1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 33’47.109: 2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 33’48.46: 3. Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia) 33’48.468: 4. Chaz Davies (BMW) 33’52.811: 5. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 33’52.862. 9. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 34’06.261. 11. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 34’17.414.
Phillip Island – FIM Superbike World Championship – Race Two: 1. Laverty 33’45.938: 2. Guintoli 33’46.356: 3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 33’47.320: 4. Fabrizio 33’48.220: 5. Sykes 33’57.483. 7. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 34’03.268. 9. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 34’05.824.
World Championship Classification: 1=. Laverty 45: 1=. Guintoli 45: 3. Fabrizio 29: 4. Sykes 22: 5. Melandri 16: 8. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 14: 9. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 14.