Team Suzuki Press Office - June 9.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier fought his way to fourth place during today's first race at the eni FIM Superbike World Championship event at Portimao in Portugal; his and the team's best result of the year so far.
Starting from 13th and on the fifth-row of the grid, Camier was down in 15th place at the end of the first circulation after an incident with another rider forced him off the track. He began his fight up the field and passed many riders as he moved into the top 10 on lap five with a double overtaking manoeuvre on the brakes at the end of the start/ finish straight. Camier continued his progression through the pack and after Jonathan Rea and race-leader Eugene Laverty were both forced to retire with bike problems, Camier moved up to fourth place by the end of lap 11. He held this position for the remainder of the race and recorded consistent times that saw him finish only just over nine-seconds behind eventual race winner Marco Melandri. Camier's result was his and FIXI Crescent Suzuki's best result of the season so far and shows the race potential of the Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R. Unfortunately for Camier, he didn't fare as well in race two when a simple mechanical issue on lap 12 caused the Englishman to retire from the race as he was making progress through the field and was closing on the fight for sixth place.
Jules Cluzel had two very impressive performances today as he brought his FIXI Crescent Suzuki home comfortably inside the top-10 in both races. Starting from the middle of the third row, Cluzel was ninth at the end of lap one in the first race and struggled to find a rhythm early on as he was relegated to 12th, but the Frenchman re-grouped and made his way back up to ninth on lap 11; a position he held until the 20th lap when he passed Carlos Checa to move into eighth and hold that place until the chequered flag. In race two Cluzel's team made some setting changes to help the rider and his performance and lap-times improved as he held a consistent pace throughout. He gave chase to race-one winner Melandri and passed the Italian on lap 14 to move up to seventh, after which the FIXI Crescent Suzuki man was under pressure from Davide Giugliano, but Cluzel managed to put some space between him and the Aprilia and brought his machine home in a creditable and impressive seventh.
Both of today's races were held in cloudy conditions with track temperatures reaching a high of 27°C during the first race. Melandri took victory in race one by one of the smallest margins in Superbike history as he led Championship leader Sylvain Guintoli over the line by just 0.007 seconds. Race two saw Laverty make amends for his race one retirement by racing to the win ahead of his team-mate Guintoli.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will now head back to the UK before it prepares to travel to the next round of the series, which is scheduled for Imola in Italy on Sunday June 30th. Leon Camier:
"I got an ok start in the first race and made a bit of progress, but as I went past Haslam on the inside - and was well past him! - he let the brake off in the turn and punted into me. I lost some time and dropped back some places and had the job of trying to catch-up and get through the field, so from 15th to fourth is a pretty-good result. The bike felt good, I felt like I could pass really well; and the speed of the FIXI Crescent Suzuki has definitely improved. This showed on the straight because I could exit on the last turn and keep the momentum going so I could pass at the end of the straight, which I haven't been able to do before, so I was really happy about that. At the start of the second race I had a problem with the electronics and the bike didn't pull away as it should. I made a few places up, but didn't feel quite as strong as I did in the first race, but I kept pushing and I was getting in a good rhythm when a problem with the bike didn't allow me to continue. I was hoping that I could have made up some more places, because I could see the group in front coming back to me, so I think that fourth or fifth was achievable, but we will never know now!" Jules Cluzel:
"I'm pleased to have finished both races inside the top-10. The first one was really hard and in the early part of the race I had very little feeling from the rear tyre and I nearly high-sided a few times in the first two laps. After this I tried to come back step-by-step and at the end my pace was not so bad and I finished eighth. In the second race we tried to improve the setting and I think we found something because the first 10-laps - when I was behind Leon - I was able to follow him and my pace was better than the first race. I think I was faster in every lap and that was a good step forward. I would still like more grip on the rear and I need to do more laps on a used tyre to learn more about how it works at the end of the race. It's been a good weekend and we have made some steps; now we will go to Italy and carry on working there to go further forward." Paul Denning
- Team Manager:
"We've made some positive steps forward this weekend and Leon's performance in the first race; coming from 15th at the end of the first lap to fourth at the end - and not losing any time at all to the leaders over the last 12 laps of the race - is a very encouraging sign for the future. A very simple gear-linkage failure in race two was disappointing for everybody involved and robbed us of what looked like a top-six place.
"Portimao has been a challenging circuit for Jules in his first ride on the GSX-R here, but he rode two solid races, particularly in the second race when we tried a setting which will hopefully give us a more solid base to work from for the next rounds.
"The bike and Leon were strong last year in Imola and we will be going there with high hopes to turn the improved potential from this weekend into better race results." Portimao - eni FIM Superbike - Race One:
1. Marco Melandri (BMW) 38'12.447: 2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.007: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +4.224: 4. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +9.479: 5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +12.057. 8. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +22.337. Portimao - eni FIM Superbike - Race Two
: 1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 38'02.051: 2. Guintoli +4.107: 3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +5.853: 4. Baz +15.306: 5. Chaz Davies (BMW) +17.552. 7. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +29.392
. DNF: Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki).
1. Guintoli 213: 2. Sykes 185: 3. Laverty 174: 4. Melandri 156: 5. Davies 133. 10. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 72
: 11. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 62. Portimao WSB Images
: CLICK HERE FOR RACE PHOTOS