FIXI Crescent Suzuki has completed all its preparations for this weekend's sixth round of the World Superbike Championship at Miller Motorsports Park in America with John Hopkins and Leon Camier now ready to race.
Hopkins will start from the fourth row of the grid after qualifying in 16th place during today's Superpole. He produced an impressive lap right at the end of this morning's second qualifying session to give him the seventh fastest time and secure his place in this afternoon's qualifying shootout. Unfortunately he was eliminated in Superpole 1 as he struggled with some tyre issues and will need to make one of his characteristically-good starts during both of tomorrow's races to push him through the field on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R.
Camier had a tough second qualifying session as he too had some grip issues from a new tyre and was unable to improve on his time from the first day, leaving him missing out on Superpole. He posted the 20th-quickest time which will give him a fifth row start on race-day. Camier is upbeat about his chances for the races on Monday following a very good showing in the final practice session that saw him post the sixth-quickest time. Camier will be aiming to get a good start to be amongst the front-runners early on and is confident that good finishes are obtainable.
Today's Superpole was held in dry, but overcast conditions, with air temperatures only getting up to 15°C. Jakub Smrz on a Ducati set the best time to secure Pole Position for tomorrow's races, with Carlos Checa, Tom Sykes and Davide Giugliano making up the remainder of the front row.
Hopkins, Camier and the rest of the World Superbike field will be racing on Monday this week for the only time this season on the calendar - to coincide with the American celebrations for 'Memorial Day'. The first race is due to get underway at 12.00hrs local time (19.00hrs BST) with race two scheduled for 15.30 local time (22.30hrs BST) on Monday May 28th.
"On race rubber I'm pretty happy with the bike's set-up, but when we put the Qualifying tyre on in Superpole 1, the chatter was so bad I could hardly ride the bike. It was quite frustrating because I had qualified seventh quickest up until then and I was looking forward to getting a good grid position. The Qualifying tyre in Superpole 1 felt strange right from the start and I knew it was a problem from the first turn. It's a shame because I had got to know the circuit pretty well and was feeling good about it. The fourth-row of the grid is not a great place to be, but I am confident I can get into the mix if I get the best starts possible."
"It was wet at the start of this morning's timed qualifying and it was only towards the end that the track began to dry out. That's when everybody put on soft rubber and started going quickly and that's what I tried to do as well. We put in a soft tyre about five or six minutes before the end but I got held up by traffic on the first lap. As soon I sorted that out, I began to push hard, but the bike started going all over the place and was hard to control. There was not enough time left to put on another one and so I lost the chance of getting into Superpole, which is particularly annoying as I was certainly quick enough in the afternoon untimed session. Afterwards we found out that the tyre had a fault and that caused it to go out of round. Like John, I'm also going to have to make the best starts of the season."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"I cannot believe what happened today and I really don't know what to say, except that I am gutted. Tyre problems prevented both riders from being on the front two rows of the grid, which is where they should've been considering their performances in today's untimed and Qualifying sessions. I'm very pleased with John for putting in a strong performance and getting into Superpole, but his qualifier in Superpole 1 caused a lot of chattering and he said that there was no grip. It was a shame about Leon's tyre this morning because I'm sure he would've qualified for Superpole and done very well. From his and John's lap times in qualifying and the afternoon free practice, I am confident that we would've had both of them in the top eight for sure. Tomorrow's another day and if John and Leon can get good starts, I'm sure that they'll be capable of mixing it with the top guys and bringing home some good results.
Miller WSB Superpole Result:
1. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1'47.626: 2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1'47.810: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'48.062: 4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1'48.220: 5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1'48.563. 16. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'49.966. 20. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'50.520.