Team Suzuki Press Office – October 18. FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier marked his return to action following a month-long lay-off through injury to record a stunning sixth-quickest time in today’s first qualifying session for this weekend’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship event at Jerez in Spain.
Camier used this morning’s free practice session to re-acquaint himself with the Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R and to test a number of set-up strategies that his team wanted to evaluate. Following further setting changes in time for this afternoon’s session, Camier felt more at home on his machine and quickly got into a smooth and fast rhythm as he continued to build in confidence. He improved on his times throughout the 45-minutes of qualifying, before eventually putting a softer rear compound tyre into his FIXI Crescent Suzuki and setting the sixth-fastest time.
Jules Cluzel worked with his crew to get his bike dialled-in to the 4,423m Spanish circuit and to find the right balance of grip and consistency in readiness for Sunday’s two races. Cluzel has good knowledge of the circuit so spent today working on set-up for his machine rather than learning lines and pushing for a fast lap-time. He is confident of a good qualifying tomorrow and then will be looking to push further in this season’s final races.
Today’s sessions were held in warm sunshine with track temperatures reaching 38°C. Davide Giugliano set the top time today with championship leader Tom Sykes in seventh. FIXI Crescent Suzuki and the rest of the field will have a second qualifying session tomorrow morning to decide the 15 riders that will qualify for the afternoon’s Superpole to challenge for the best grid positions for Sunday’s two 21-lap races.
“This morning the guys had some settings that they wanted to try that they had picked up from the other riders, but it really didn’t work for me and the bike didn’t feel so good to ride, plus I’m lacking a bit of confidence so the combination of the two left us down towards the bottom of the timesheets. This afternoon we put the bike back to how I had it last time out and I was then able to try the soft tyre and managed to go quick at the end. I was happy with the lap-time to be sixth, but we need some more dry time to get some consistency. I am still not very confident on the bike, so I really need dry time to get the feeling back, but rain is forecast tomorrow so that might not be possible. My foot feels awkward, especially in some of the right-hand corners, but I can get around ok. I think for race distance it will be painful, because at the end of today it was throbbing and starting to swell up, but it is what it is so there’s no point complaining!”
“It was a much better day today compared to Magny-Cours where we struggled a little bit. We started to work with the bike today and went step-by-step to get where we want. This morning I think everybody had a really strange feeling, because the grip felt strange and the lap-times were quite slow. We tried to find some grip and consistency and we worked on this in the afternoon so we lost some time, but at the end we made a good and interesting run and now we have some data to work on tonight. I think that we can now make a good qualifying and Superpole tomorrow, whatever the weather.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Just to be here in Jerez and be passed fit to race was a testament to Leon’s determination and professionalism. He’d been told by four highly-respected doctors that he wouldn’t be able to put any weight on the foot for at least six weeks and now four weeks later he is back with the team and has qualified in the top-six this afternoon. Not only are the physical injuries tough to overcome, but to also regain confidence and make-up for the lack of recent track time is difficult, but Leon has gone step-by-step today and done an incredible job overall. If we can keep this going and target top-10 finishes in the races, that would be a superb result based on everything that has happened recently.
“Jules has pushed hard today and worked really well with his team. I think there is a lot more to come and the ultimate lap-time shouldn’t be too difficult to improve on quite significantly; the biggest concern is the bike’s performance when the tyre is used and how we can maintain the pace when the grip has dropped down. We have plenty to work on tomorrow, but the guys are really focused and we’ll be doing everything we can to give Jules a better package for final qualifying tomorrow.”
Jerez – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Qualifying: 1. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1’42.374: 2. Marco Melandri (BMW) +0.267: 3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +0.382: 4. Toni Elias (Aprilia) +0.408: 5. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.532: 6. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +0.562. 10. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +0.866.