Team Suzuki Press Office – April 26. FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Leon Camier made a fearless return to the racing arena today as he successfully completed the first day of practice for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship round at Assen, less than two weeks after serious injury.
Camier was passed fit to participate in this morning’s free practice, with a further fitness test scheduled after the session to assess his condition to take part in the rest of the weekend’s proceedings. Camier performed well in the treacherous conditions and recorded an inspiring eighth quickest time around the 4,542m Dutch circuit. He was then given the go ahead to partake in this afternoon’s qualifying session and the rest of the weekend’s events. Camier then produced another brave ride to post the 10th fastest time in first qualifying to see him safely into the provisional positions for tomorrow’s Superpole. He will undergo further treatment this evening to make sure his is in the best possible condition for tomorrow’s sessions and Sunday’s races.
Jules Cluzel produced some impressive laps today as he set the eighth best time in the qualifying session on his first complete day onboard the Yoshimura-powered GSX-R in full wet conditions. He consistently improved on his lap-times and was in touch with the fastest group of riders all day. Cluzel looked composed and comfortable on his machine and is in a confident mood for the weekend ahead.
Today’s practices took place in awful conditions with heavy rain falling constantly over the circuit and afternoon track temperatures only reaching 4°C. Tom Sykes set the provisional pole time, but the day was marred by an injury to Leon Haslam on a Honda. He crashed in this morning’s practice and was taken to hospital in Assen, where he was diagnosed with a double-fracture to his lower left leg. FIXI Crescent Suzuki wishes him well for a speedy recovery.
Camier and Cluzel have a second qualifying session tomorrow morning where they will endeavour to confirm their places in the top-15 to make sure they are in the afternoon’s Superpole to get the best qualifying positions for Sunday’s two races.
“I’m happy that I can ride, but after about three of four laps my knee stiffens up and feels like it’s blocked and it becomes really painful in the wet. I didn’t have a particularly good feeling with the bike today, but maybe I was a bit stiff and not quite riding how I need to. I think that in the dry the feeling in my knee will be a bit worse, but I’ve got to take it as it comes and hopefully it will loosen off a bit more. We’ve still got about a day-and-a-half before the race, so I’ve got time for it to improve. Hopefully when race-day comes I can do the distance.”
“I am very happy with the day; I was a little bit nervous because it was the first time in full wet conditions on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki. I did about five-laps in Jerez in the test in the wet, but the grip was completely different and it wasn’t raining then. In the worst condition today the feeling was good, so that is a positive thing, last year in Supersport the grip was not as good and it wasn’t as comfortable. I had a good rhythm and pace today and didn’t make any mistakes so this is good for my confidence. Tomorrow looks like being a sunny day, so things will be better. Today was a bit of an interrogation for me to see how I could ride in the wet and I am happy with how everything went, because I know I am better in the wet at other tracks, so I think if it rains at those circuits we can go well.
“It was good to have Leon back on track today, he didn’t look totally comfortable, but he is here and it’s good for the team to have him riding again.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We have accomplished everything we wanted to here on the first day at Assen, despite horrendous weather conditions. Both riders are safely in the top-10, we had no crashes in the treacherous conditions and we gathered a lot of data to help with the setting of the GSX-R for tomorrow. Leon has done an absolutely amazing job to be here, and without question it’s a very painful exercise to ride the bike, but he’s gritting his teeth and will be doing his best to achieve something positive over the weekend. Equally, Jules has done a sterling job today. It was his first real time on the Superbike in fully wet conditions and he has been competitive with the fastest group of riders all day long.
“I’d like to say thank-you once again to Damian Cudlin for being here at Assen as a reserve rider. It’s been a pleasure to have him around, he knew that Leon was going to try and ride before the weekend started, and he has been totally professional in his short time with the team. I hope we get the chance to work with him again some time in the future.
“On behalf of the all at FIXI Crescent Suzuki, I’d also like to send our best wishes to Leon Haslam for a quick recovery following his accident today. We hope he gets well soon and makes a fast return to the WSB field.”
Assen – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Qualifying 1: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’57.190: 2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +1.634: 3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +1.878: 4. Marco Melandri (BMW) +2.128: 5. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) +2.127: 8. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +3.363. 10. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +4.538.