Team Suzuki Press Office – May 24. FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s first day of work for the European round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Donington Park was severely hindered today by some awful weather at the British circuit.
This morning’s free practice was almost a wash-out with only a handful of riders heading out on track in the wet and windy conditions. Leon Camier did just two sighting laps to test some electronics before returning to the garage for the rest of the session. Conditions did improve slightly for the start of first qualifying this afternoon and both Camier and Jules Cluzel were able to head out on to the 4,023m circuit with slick tyres. Camier posted some impressive times – he even led the timesheets at one point – but intermittent rain and very strong winds, coupled with cold temperatures meant that the Englishman couldn’t complete his planned work in the session and had to settle for sixth quickest.
Cluzel started the qualifying with a wet setting on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R, but quickly came in to change the bike’s set-up. He was in 11th place in the standings when a sharp and heavy rainstorm on one part of the track caught him out and he had a slow-speed crash. He re-mounted and returned to the pits uninjured, but due to the weather conditions he was unable to venture back out on circuit to try and improve his time or position.
With the inclement conditions, that saw track temperatures at only 4°C, it was never possible for any of the riders to produce many quick laps. Tom Sykes took today’s honours, but with the forecast looking more promising for Saturday, the lap-times to carry forward into the afternoon’s Superpole will most likely come from the morning’s final qualifying session.
“It’s been ok today, but the bike never really felt right out there. We tried a few things with the electronics to get the wheelying under control and there is still quite a lot we can work on to improve things. I don’t think we’re a million miles away from being where we want to be though, so we’re not that worried. We’ll make some changes tomorrow and hopefully the weather will be better and we can get some proper work done, because it was absolutely horrible out there today.”
“Today we only did a few laps, but I am happy because I feel quite good with where we are. I thought we would be quite far away as I didn’t feel too good on the bike; because we started with a wet setting and I then stopped to change it and we lost quite a bit of time. Then it started to rain and Sykes crashed in front of me when I was on an out-lap. I was riding really slowly and saw him crash and I don’t know what happened because the bike just slipped from under me. I got back to the garage ok, but it had started raining a lot more and we couldn’t go out again. I don’t like this English weather today, so I hope it gets better for the rest of the weekend!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It’s been a long British winter this year and it feels like it’s still continuing here at Donington Park. It’s been bitterly cold, extremely windy and felt like it was about to snow at any minute! That said, the track was in a good enough condition this afternoon to get some reasonable data and understand – if not the detailed chassis settings for better conditions – at least how the engine is responding and what we need to do to improve corner exit in a couple of parts of the track. The weather forecast is much better for the weekend; let’s hope it’s accurate and we can get down to some proper competition as the event progresses.”
Donington Park – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Qualifying 1: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’30.278: 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +1.282: 3. Marco Melandri (BWM) +1.293: 4. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +1.662: 5. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) +1.662: 6. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +1.700. 11. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +2.399.