FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier produced his best ride of the season so far in Sunday's second race from the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park in England.
Camier was lucky to escape a first corner crash - that cost him some valuable time - and then got stuck behind Eugene Laverty, before passing the Irishman and chasing down the group in front. Camier caught and passed Sylvain Guintoli and looked to be heading for a comfortable, and impressive, sixth before drama on the last corner saw the BMWs of Leon Haslam and Marco Melandri collide. This incident gave Camier the chance to take an unexpected, but ultimately well deserved fourth. His pace in the latter parts of the race matched the front-runners and, but for the avoiding action he had to take on the first corner, he could have been right amongst the battle for podium honours. Camier made it a double of top-10 finishes today after bringing his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R home in a hard-fought ninth in the first race.
Peter Hickman made an impressive debut in the World Superbike Championship by racing his FIXI Crescent Suzuki to ninth place in race two. He made a good start and was quickly up into a point-scoring position from 19th on the grid, before catching and overtaking more experienced riders on his way to 11th by lap 19. Hickman rode hard for the remainder of the race to preserve his place, before finally bringing his machine home in ninth after the last corner incident. Hickman's first race was cut short by a small electrical issue that forced him to pit early on, his crew were able to trace the trouble and get him back on track, but he was too many laps behind and finished the race as not classified; although he did collect some valuable data that will assist the team as it moves forward.
Today's races were held in dry, sunny, but windy conditions, with track temperatures getting up to 18°C this afternoon. The first race of the day was won by Marco Melandri on a BMW, with Jonathan Rea on a Honda taking the spoils in race two. Italian Max Biaggi leads the Championship, with Tom Sykes second and Rea in third.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will now head across the Atlantic for the sixth round of the season as it travels to Miller Park near Salt Lake City in the state of Utah for the next race on Monday May 28th, where the team hope they will be re-joined by John Hopkins, who was forced to miss today's races due to an injury he suffered last weekend at Monza in Italy.
"I had the pace this weekend to be with the top guys and it felt good fighting and catching them today. In race one, there was a problem with the brakes and I couldn't get into the turns the way I wanted and that prevented me from catching the guys at the front. We changed to a softer rear tyre for race two. My start was OK and if I hadn't been held up for so long by Laverty and Guintoli I'm sure I would've been challenging for the podium at the end. It was a really enjoyable race and great fun catching people and passing them."
"I had an electrical problem in race one and had to pull into the pits after just two laps. The guys fixed it and I went out again, but by then I had lost too much time to make any impact on the top 15. Fortunately there were no problems in race two and I was able to run consistently fast and chip away at the people in front of me one by one. My fastest lap was on lap 17 and I am really, really happy with how much I've learnt this weekend - getting ninth today was like a win for me! I would like to give huge credit to the team for building such a brilliant bike and working so hard to help me this weekend and I would also like to say a big thank you to everybody at FIXI Crescent Suzuki for giving me this chance."Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"We've had a much better weekend here at Donington than we have had recently and it's been good to see some smiles returning to the garage. Leon rode fantastically in the second race and could easily have been challenging for the podium if he'd have gotten away with the front group and not been held up.
"Peter did an excellent job for us this weekend. He came in a last-minute replacement after we lost John and he has done everything - and more - of what was asked of him. His ninth place is a good reward for him for his hard work.
"I would also like to thank the whole crew who worked tirelessly this weekend to give Leon and Peter bikes that they could be competitive on. We will now go to Miller in a positive frame of mind and hopefully we'll Have John back with us."
Paul Denning - Team Principal:
"This weekend has been the strongest for the team since the start of the season. The only blip was in race one when Leon struggled with a combination of braking problems and tyre choice, and Peter had an electrical problem. An earth lead connector broke, but the team fixed it and got him out again, so that he could get some more laps under his belt. Race two showed the true potential of the FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R. For Leon to finish just four seconds down on the race winner after a difficult start is a fabulous performance. Peter had to jump on to a completely different spec machine to his BSB bike and learn it quickly this weekend. To do that, make no mistakes, run consistent lap times, whilst giving us excellent technical feedback is extremely impressive.
"The only negative this weekend is that John wasn't here. It's easy to speculate, but I'm sure he would've been fighting for the podium in both races. We're hoping for positive news from him in California in the next couple of days, because a fit and fired up John is capable of great things."