FIXI Crescent Suzuki racers Leon Camier and John Hopkins both face a tough task at the beginning of both of today's races at the seventh round of the FIM Superbike World Championship at Misano.
Camier (P14, 1'37.985) will start from the fourth row of the grid, with Hopkins (P18, 1'37.168) immediately behind his team-mate on row five. On a circuit where it is important to make a good start to ensure that you stay with the leaders, both FIXI Crescent riders will be looking to get their Yoshimura-powered Suzukis off the line and on the pace quickly.Camier looked impressive in this morning's final qualifying session when he posted the eighth quickest time and for a large part of Superpole 1 he looked like he would advance to Superpole 2. Unfortunately Camier just missed out on a higher grid position, despite pushing hard all the way to end of the session and recording his best time on his last lap. Part of the track was still damp from previous rain showers and Camier delayed his timing for a good lap as long as he could, but unfortunately his gamble didn't pay-off and he ran out of time.
Hopkins lapped almost half-of-a-second quicker in this morning's qualifying session than he did in yesterday's first qualifying, but the close nature of World Superbike racing around the 4'226m Italian circuit meant his improvement was not good enough to get him into this afternoon's Superpole. He was on a fast lap that looked enough to get him into Superpole, but got held up by a couple of slower riders and was unable to better his time as the session came to an end. Less than a second covered the top-17 riders this morning, which gives an indication that close racing could be the order of the day on Sunday.
This afternoon's Superpole was actually declared wet, despite the fact that the rain had finished and the track was almost dry by the time the session began. Due to a wet declaration it meant it was two 20-minute sessions instead of the three shorter ones that are normally scheduled in the dry conditions. Tom Sykes on a Kawasaki recorded the fastest time to take his fifth pole position from the seven events so far this year.
Camier and Hopkins will have a warm-up session tomorrow morning to make any final alterations in time for the two races scheduled for later in the day, the first of which gets underway at 12.00hrs local time (11.00hrs BST).
Today also saw the renaming of the Italian circuit in honour of the late Marco Simoncelli. During a ceremony at the track attended by Simoncelli's father, a new logo was unveiled and the circuit will now be known as 'Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli', out of respect to the popular Italian racer who lost his life in MotoGP at Malaysia last year.
"My race pace on normal rubber is competitive and things were looking good for Superpole this afternoon, but when the rain came down, it ruined everything. Although it stopped pretty soon, there were quite a few damp patches on the far side of the track and it was difficult to know how hard to push the bike. I wasn't confident enough to push really hard, but I still thought I'd make Superpole 2 OK. Towards the end of Superpole 1, we fitted a new tyre, but once I got out on the track, I experienced chatter and that was that. I've practiced some starts and I'm happy with the way they went, so hopefully I'll manage to get two good starts tomorrow. I've got some of the top guys nearby, so I think it's going to be a pretty exciting tomorrow!"
"I spent the first part of this morning's qualifying carrying on getting comfortable with the bike - and the track - and also did some long runs. I put in a soft tyre and went for my fast lap, but I was held up by a couple of slower riders when I was really going for it. There wasn't enough time for me to pit and try again, so I guess I just was unlucky. With hindsight maybe I should've tried doing my fast lap a bit earlier, but that's how it panned out today and I will have to live with it. I am normally a good starter and I'm confident I can be in the mix from the start. It's easy to get held up at this track, so my aim is to be at least two rows forward by the time we all get to turn one and then keep making progress."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"It's hard to know exactly what to say today except that we know what Leon and John are capable of come race-day! Leon always has good race pace and so we expect him to move up the grid and challenge the lead group sooner rather than later. John continues to build his confidence and was just plain unlucky to get held up on his fast lap - I'm sure he'd have qualified for Superpole otherwise. It was a strange Superpole and quite a few of the top guys are also in difficult positions on the grid. It's a bit of a shame that we weren't able to capitalise on that, but it's going to make it all very interesting for the spectators and the TV audience tomorrow. "
Misano Adriatico WSB Superpole: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'35.375: 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1'35.991: 3. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 1'36.083: 4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1'36.147: 5. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1'36.183. 14. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'37.985. 18. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'37.168.