FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Leon Camier took an impressive 10th place in the first race at the seventh round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Misano in Italy.
Camier started from 14th on the grid and was quickly on the pace and involved in a multi-bike battle for top-10 places. As the race progressed Camier tried to push on, but the technical nature of the 4.226m Italian circuit made overtaking very difficult. With two laps remaining Camier had made his way up to 12th, before passing two riders on the same lap to move into 10th; a position that he held until the chequered flag. In race two, Camier was in ninth by the fifth lap, but a crash ruined his chances of improving on his race one result. He was uninjured and able to get back on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R and rejoin the race to try and salvage something. Camier chased after the pack and eventually came home in 15th place for a final points-scoring position and thoughts of what might have been.
John Hopkins scored points in the second race as he completed his first double race weekend of the season. He finished the 24-laps of race one in 17th position, before bringing his machine home in 14th place - despite being hit by another rider high-siding in-front of him - to score his first points since round three of his injury-hit season. Hopkins will take solace from completing the 48-laps from the two races today, with no ill effects from his recent injuries and will look to be stronger for the next round in three weeks' time.
Today's races were held in warm and sunny conditions, with track temperatures getting up to 41°C. Italian Max Biaggi on an Aprilia took victory on his home soil in both races to extend his title lead.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will next be in race action at the Motorland Aragon Circuit in Spain on Sunday July 1st for the eighth round of the Championship.
"I know the results don't look great, but I'm pretty happy with our potential today - especially race two. We made a bit of a gamble with the settings in race one, because the conditions were quite a bit cooler than they had been, but the settings weren't spot on and the grip wasn't too good, so the tyres wore out pretty quickly. I rode as hard as I could, kept a consistent pace; and finished 10th.
"The bike felt really good in race two and I was lapping quickly from the start. I made a lot of progress and was enjoying myself passing people. Everything felt comfortable until a tip-off in turn four. I think I might have gone in a bit slower and tighter than normal and the front suddenly folded and down I went. I got back on the bike and, a lap later, I was just four-tenths-of-a-second slower than my previous best lap. During the race I set times equal to all the top guys except Biaggi. I was the fastest rider in sector four, second in sector five and third in sector one that shows how well the FIXI Crescent Suzuki was going - probably the best it's been all year! I feel really positive after today and now all we have to do is nail Qualifying and we'll be up there fighting with the fast guys for sure."
"I can't say that I am too happy with the results, but I am happy because I've done 48 laps today in hard conditions with no problems and I'm regaining my confidence. I didn't make a particularly good start in race one and then got held up in traffic. It took a bit of time, but once in the clear I tried to stay consistent throughout the race. My lap times at the end of the race were good, so it's a pity that I lost touch at the start.
"We made some quite big changes to the bike for race two and I felt an improvement straight away. Starting races from the fifth row of the grid is never easy - especially when the competition is so tough. To make matters worse, Mercado high-sided right in front of me early on and he and his bike hit me and forced me off the track and into the gravel. I recovered, rejoined the action and then spent the rest of the race playing catch-up. Once again I was running pretty good lap times, but unable to make as much progress as I would've liked because of my grid position."
Paul Denning - Team Principal:
"For John, the important thing this weekend was to rebuild his physical strength and his confidence. Even though the day didn't go to plan - results wise - he put 48 laps under his belt and made good improvements. He was unfortunate to get knocked off the track in race two, but recovered and was lapping well at the end of the race.
"Leon today showed massive potential - especially in race two. Without the crash, I'm sure a minimum of the top-five was on the cards - the lap times demonstrate that. The crash was unfortunate but we were impressed with his commitment to pick the bike out of the gravel and immediately start charging again.
"We've got two days of testing coming up in Aragon and that will provide John with more miles, which will be good for his comeback and will stand him in good stead when we race there a week later. He, Leon and the team will keep working hard, keep learning and keep trying to get the FIXI Crescent Suzuki competing with the fastest riders - which is where we believe we can be."
Misano Adriatico WSB Race 1: 1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 38'58.471: 2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 38'58.776: 3. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 39'02.974: 4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 39'07.329: 5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 39'10.098. 10. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 39'16.832. 17. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 39'30.373.
Misano Adriatico WSB Race 2: 1. Biaggi 39'01.869: 2. Rea 39'07.224: 3. Leon Haslam (BMW) 39'07.600: 4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 39'08.873: 5. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) 39'09.790. 14. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 39'53.750. 15. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 39'57.371.
World Championship Classification: 1. Biaggi 210.5: 2. Rea 172: 3. Sykes 164.5: 4. Melandri 155.5: 5. Checa 150.5. 13. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 49.5. 21. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 10.