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Cluzel Just Misses Superpole 3

Team Suzuki Press Office – April 27.  FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Jules Cluzel narrowly missed out on qualifying for Superpole 3 during this afternoon’s sessions of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Assen in The Netherlands.

The Frenchman made the most of the dry conditions at the 4,542m Dutch circuit this morning to post the 10th quickest time and see him comfortably qualify for Superpole. In the first part of the 15-rider shootout he was ninth fastest and progressed to the second session. Cluzel had a qualifying tyre in his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R in Superpole 2 and looked on for a good lap to seal his place in the final instalment, but a mistake on his fast lap cost him dearly and he had to abort the attempt. He tried to do another flying lap, but had used all the grip in his qualifying tyre and had to settle for a 10th-placed finish and a position at the head of the fourth row of the grid.

Leon Camier was left frustrated after a technical issue forced him to miss all of the second qualifying session. He made his way on track at the start of the practice, but immediately returned to the pits and was forced to sit out the remaining time while his crew worked on his bike. Camier unfortunately missed the chance to set a time good enough to qualify for Superpole and will start tomorrow’s races from 19th on the grid, due to the time he set in yesterday’s wet qualifying. The Englishman did get the chance of some dry laps in the second free practice and showed some impressive form, considering he is not fully fit, as he clocked the ninth fastest time; which coincidently could have given him ninth place on the grid if he had qualified for Superpole 3.

Today’s practices were held in vastly different conditions to Friday, with sporadic sunshine and a dry track making things safer and easier for all riders. Tom Sykes on a Kawasaki took his second consecutive pole of the season, with Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty completing the front row.

Cluzel and Camier will line up for the first of tomorrow’s 22-lap races at 12.00 local time (11.00hrs BST) and then be on the grid again at 15.00hrs local time (14.00hrs BST) for race two, when both FIXI Crescent Suzuki stars will be looking for good starts to enable them to push for strong results.

Jules Cluzel:

“I am a little bit disappointed because I think it was possible to be in Superpole 3. I made a couple of mistakes with the qualifying tyre, because it caused some chatter in the left corners and I nearly crashed twice; so I had to stop pushing. My best lap-time was with a race tyre and it was quite good – like at Aragon – but with the qualifier I am sure I could have gone faster and made the final session. I am looking to improve my feeling on the bike tomorrow because I need to be more consistent after a few laps, so we need to do some work tonight. I hope that we can improve things for Sunday and have two good races.”

Leon Camier:

“Considering how many laps I’ve done – and that last session was only a few – I was actually quite happy to be ninth quickest in the free practice and be only 0.6 seconds off the fastest time. It feels like I’m not meant to ride this weekend, with the way things have gone, but I still have the races to come! We have some options for settings and we’re not sure which way to go. We have one that I normally run and another that I have been trying which we think has some potential, so we will need to look at things and make the decision; but from last on the grid there is not a lot I can do and it will be pretty difficult to get a good result. I have to see if my knee can stand up to race distance as well though, because I’ve only done four laps at the maximum before it has started hurting. I don’t know if I can do the whole race or not, but I’ll give it my best and just have to see what happens.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Yesterday’s result was above expectation, but today unfortunately was a day of disappointments. The team needs to apologise to Leon for the problem this morning – which left him out of Superpole. He showed very good pace in the free practice, considering the lack of laps and his obvious physical restrictions. Starting from the back may even has its positives – there are no expectations and everyone knows how difficult it has been for Leon to even be here – so whatever he can achieve will be a bonus.

“To get the bike right for Jules in the dry here has been very difficult. We’ve had a problem with stability, but despite this he has improved throughout the course of the day and, but for a mistake on the qualifying tyre, he would have made Superpole 3 and the top-nine on the grid. We’ve fixed one end of the bike for Jules, we now need to get the rear more stable and give him an easier time over race distance.”

Assen – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’35.043: 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.596: 3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +0.771: 4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.930: 5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +1.123. 10. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +1.794. 19. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +26.685.