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Camier top 5 in Donington qualifying

FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Leon Camier produced an encouraging first day's work at Donington Park in England to get the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship off to a positive start for the team.

Camier signalled his intentions by recording the second quickest time in this morning's first free practice session and then followed that this afternoon by taking over a second off that time. Camier finished the 45-minute session in fifth place, but was only 0.278 seconds from provisional Pole Position. He held the lead for a large part of the session and only slipped to fifth when his rivals put on fresh rubber in the closing stages. Camier and his crew opted to continue working on a race set-up instead of changing to softer tyres. He was pleased with his first day's work and is convinced there is more to come from his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R over the weekend.

Replacement rider Peter Hickman made an impressive start to his weekend onboard the FIXI Crescent Suzuki, as he immediately settled in with his temporary team and made several adjustments to the GSX-R to suit his riding style. Hickman used the first session to familiarise himself with the bike around the 4.023m Donington Circuit before stepping up his pace in the afternoon to knock over two seconds off his morning best time. He finished the day in 17th place, only 1.568 seconds from the top spot.

Hickman is representing FIXI Crescent Suzuki at Donington as a substitute for injured rider John Hopkins. The regular Suzuki star broke his right foot and damaged his left hip at Monza last Sunday and is unable to ride in this weekend's event.

This afternoon's qualifying session was held in dry conditions with track temperatures reaching 15°C, but with air temperatures only getting up to 11°C and a strong wind giving a chilly feel to the day's events. Today's fastest time was set by Jakub Smrz on a Ducati.

Camier and Hickman have one more Qualifying session tomorrow morning when the pair will be going all-out to get into the top-16 to make sure they qualify for the Superpole session in the afternoon that will decide grid positions for the first four rows. Sunday's first race gets underway at 12.00hrs local time (13.00hrs CEST); with the second outing scheduled for 15.30hrs local time (16.30hrs CEST).

Leon Camier:
"It's nice to be up at the front for a change, even though four riders went faster at the end of the Qualifying session. It was good to be top of the leader-board for a while and I might have been able to stay there until the end, but we decided to concentrate more on getting a good race setting. It's hard to get a perfect bike set-up at Donington, but we'll keep trying to improve the bike tomorrow and hopefully the weather will stay dry. It's been so good to have dry conditions today and manage to just put in the laps - something we've missed recently."

Peter Hickman:
"I am pretty happy with everything today and I hope that it continues the same way tomorrow. This is my first time on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki and I've been spending the time learning the bike and getting as much experience of it as I can. The bike feels as if it is on rails and I felt comfortable on it pretty-much straight away. I would like to thank the team for giving me this great opportunity and my aim now is to finish in the top-16 in tomorrow's Qualifying. I know there's more in me to come, so we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"It's been a very satisfying day for the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team. Leon has been on the top of his game all day and was fastest for quite some time in this afternoon's Qualifying. He only ended 0.278 off Pole, despite not being on soft tyres at the end. Peter has done everything that's been asked of him. I am confident in his ability and have given him the realistic goal of qualifying in the top-16 tomorrow. He's very happy with the GSX-R and has worked well with the team. The dry conditions today have allowed us to get some decent laps in and it has made me feel that we're actually going racing - and that's a nice feeling!"

Donington FIM Superbike World Championship Friday Qualifying:
1. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1'29.336: 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1'29.394: 3. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1'29.507: 4. Leon Haslam (BMW) 1'29.604. 5. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'29.614. 17. Peter Hickman (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'30.904.