Team Suzuki Press Office – April 13. FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel celebrated his first appearance in an eni FIM Superbike World Championship Superpole by recording the fifth fastest time at Motorland Aragon in Spain today.
Cluzel qualified for this afternoon’s shoot-out with the 10th quickest time overall from the two qualifying sessions, the second of which was held this morning, and then conducted a long run in the practice session to prepare for tomorrow’s race distances. Cluzel started this afternoon’s Superpole 1 with a race tyre but was concerned that his time wouldn’t be good enough to advance further, so quickly changed to the qualifying rubber – the first time he had ever ridden on the Pirelli qualifying compound – and produced a lap to take a stunning third place in the first session. For the second 12-minute session, Cluzel used a race tyre again and produced an even better lap than he had done previously on the qualifying material, to make sure he made it in to the third and final part of the shoot-out. The Frenchman started the last part of Superpole on his final qualifying tyre and recorded his fastest lap around the 5,344m Spanish circuit to place him and his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R in the middle of the second row for tomorrow’s 20-lap races.
Cluzel was FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s sole representative at Aragon today after team-mate Leon Camier was forced to withdraw due the injuries he sustained in yesterday’s crash. Camier had surgery last night to repair his injured left knee and is still resting in Alcaniz hospital. The Englishman had looked sharp on Friday and his best time from his three laps in yesterday’s qualifying session, before the crash, would have been good enough to see him qualify for the Superpole with the ninth quickest overall time, a fact that leaves the team with a feeling of what might have been.
Today’s Superpole was held in warm and sunny conditions, with track temperatures getting up to 39°C, was secured by Tom Sykes on a Kawasaki, the 12th of the Englishman’s WSB career, with Eugene Laverty and Chaz Davies joining him on the front-row. Cluzel’s fifth place makes for an all French affair on row two, as he is joined on either side by his compatriots Sylvain Guintoli and Loris Baz, who qualified fourth and sixth respectively.
Cluzel and the rest of the World Superbike field will line up for the first of tomorrow’s races at 12.00 local time (11.00hrs BST) and with race two scheduled for 15.00hrs local time (14.00hrs BST), the FIXI Crescent Suzuki star will certainly be looking for a good start in both races to capitalise on today’s qualifying.
“I am very happy with the whole of today; the practice and qualifying session went well and so did Superpole. This morning we did a long run with the race tyre and we have more information and it was good for me to get more of a feeling over a longer distance. Before Superpole I was very nervous because it was my first time, but at the end everything came good so I am really pleased with that. In the first exit we were panicking a bit because although I improved my time it was not enough to make Superpole 2, so we had to use the first qualifying tyre. I improved a lot and this was my first experience with qualifiers so I enjoyed that very much. We did have some vibration, but I think that everyone had that because there was so much more grip. We used a race tyre in the second session and I did an even faster lap than I did with the qualifier, so for me this is the really good point from the whole of Superpole. In the last run I improved again; I think it might have been possible to go quicker but I made a couple of mistakes on the lap, including a big one in the first corner, so I had to push because the qualifier only lasts for one lap. But I still improved again so I am very happy with that. We will start both races from fifth place and I enjoyed today, so this has been a high point of the weekend so far.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“After spending most of yesterday afternoon in the hospital with Leon, it has been a great boost to the whole of the team to see Jules improve his performance, and that of the Suzuki GSX-R, so much over the course of the day. He clearly has a lot of raw speed and isn’t afraid to lay it on the line. The potential he demonstrated today really shows a great deal of promise for the rest of the season, as he gains more experience. The race will be very tough tomorrow and the tyre degradation is a concern for everybody, so our focus in the warm-up will be to find the most consistent setting we can to look after the rear tyre and to allow Jules to ride at his limits throughout the race.
“It has been a brilliant performance today by everyone in the team – especially Jules – and I hope we can give Leon a little get well present tomorrow by further demonstrating that the FIXI Crescent Suzuki has the potential to challenge at the front.”
Aragon – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’56.339: 2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +0.299: 3. Chaz Davies (BMW) +0.506: 4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +1.147: 5. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +1.201.