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Camier misses front row by a whisker

FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier will start both of tomorrow's fifth-round World Superbike races at Donington from the second row of the grid after qualifying in seventh today.

Camier easily booked his place in this afternoon's Superpole after a strong final qualifying this morning, which actually saw the Englishman lead the timesheets in the closing minutes of the session. Camier recorded the seventh and eighth quickest times respectively in Superpole 1 and 2, before finally setting a time of 1'28.551 in Superpole 3, narrowly missing out on a front-row grid position by just two-tenths-of-a-second, even though his time was over three-tenths-of-a-second faster than the current lap record.

Peter Hickman, standing in for the injured John Hopkins, was unable to get into Superpole, but gained more experience of his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R today and hopefully his hard work will yield some Championship points tomorrow, as he starts his World Superbike career from 19th on the grid. Hickman continued to improve throughout the day and is confident of putting on a good performance in tomorrow's races.

The young Englishman is deputising for Hopkins this weekend following the latter being forced to miss this weekend's event at Donington after crashing at Monza last Sunday. Hopkins has now returned to America for further tests on his injured hip after an examination in the UK failed to conclusively find the extent of the damage. It is hoped that Hopkins will make a quick recovery and will be able to take his place alongside Camier at Miller Park in America later this month.

Today's Superpole was won by British rider Tom Sykes on a Kawasaki, giving the likeable Yorkshireman his fourth pole position from five events so far this season. Leon Haslam and Marco Melandri - both on BMWs - and Max Biaggi on an Aprilia make up the rest of the front row.

Camier, Hickman and the rest of the World Superbike grid will line up for Sunday's first race at 12.00hrs local time (13.00hrs CEST); with the second outing scheduled for 15.30hrs local time (16.30hrs CEST).

Leon Camier:
"That was pretty close to getting our first front-row start of the year and I am a little disappointed that I didn't quite manage it. It's been good to put in a decent number of laps and because of that we've been able to improve the bike and the electronics. I did a long stint on a hard tyre and set some good and consistent lap times. Although the front row of the grid would've been great, as long as I make good starts, I expect to be mixing it with the leaders going into turn one."

Peter Hickman:
"Of course I am disappointed not to get into Superpole, but I always knew it would be a tough ask. I am still learning how the FIXI Crescent Suzuki behaves and each time I get on it my experience grows. I'm really happy with everything and I'm looking forward to racing against the top guys in the Championship. I generally make good starts, so I will do my best tomorrow to make up some places early on and see what happens as the race progresses."

Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"Today was another really satisfying day and just what the team needed. I'm very pleased with our performance over these two days and hopefully the improvement will continue tomorrow. Leon has done a great job and has been with the top guys in every practice and qualifying. If he could've found just a fraction of a second in one of the sectors he would've been on the front row for sure. Peter has worked hard and once again done everything we've asked of him. If he carries on this way, there's a good chance he'll score some championship points."

Paul Denning - Team Principal:
"With the run of bad luck we've had since the start of the season, it's nice to have a solid couple of days and see the riders get into a rhythm. We've been able to improve both the setting and performance of the FIXI Crescent Suzuki and have made positive steps forward. Leon has been running with the leaders all weekend and only just missed out on the front row of the grid. His race pace has been consistently fast and I'm sure he'll be a contender tomorrow.

"Peter has impressed the whole team with his willingness to work hard learning the bike. He has done an extremely solid job and hopefully this will translate into his first WSBK points. I'd like to thank Nick Morgan and the MSS team for allowing him to ride for us this weekend."

Donington Superpole 3 Results:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'27.716: 2. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1'27.864: 3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1'28.177: 4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1'28.340: 5. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1'28.420. 7. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'28.551. 19. Peter Hickman (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'30.296.