FIXI Crescent Suzuki racers Leon Camier and John Hopkins are both in Superpole positions for this weekend's seventh round of the World Superbike Championship at Misano in Italy after today's first qualifying session.
Camier (P11, 1'37.280) was only 0.759 seconds from the fastest time of the day around the 4'226m Italian circuit, with Hopkins (P16, 1'37.514) just 0.993 seconds away from provisional pole position. Camier made a positive start to the weekend's proceedings by recording the fifth-quickest time in this morning free practice session, while team-mate Hopkins had to overcome some small issues this morning, before producing one of his most productive sessions of the season so far in this afternoon's qualifying on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R.
Today's conditions were very warm on the Adriatic Riviera with air temperatures reaching 28°C and track temperatures getting up to 36°C. Current World Champion Carlos Checa on a Ducati set the fastest lap.
Camier and Hopkins will have a further qualifying session of 45-minutes tomorrow morning to try and confirm their positions for the afternoon's Superpole, where the top-16 riders will be going all-out to get the best grid positions for Sunday's two races.
"This afternoon the track felt more slippery than this morning and probably that's why most people didn't go much faster. Sometimes that happens when the temperature goes up, but our main problem this afternoon was with chatter. That's what's preventing me from going quicker and once we can solve this problem I'll go quite a bit faster for sure. At one stage this afternoon, I was running in the top-six and I really feel that this is more or less where I should be. Once we sort out the chatter, I'll be able to run with the top guys again and that's what I'll be going for tomorrow."
"I haven't been to Misano for couple of years, so I was hoping to get out today and put in as many laps as I could and get familiar with the track again. Unfortunately, my bike had a bit of a misfire this morning and I lost some useful track time. This afternoon, we tried a couple of different tyre combinations and improved the bike throughout the session and I was able to get into a decent rhythm and more comfortable with the bike. At the end of qualifying we fitted a new rear with a used front tyre and the combination wasn't good enough to improve my lap times. I have no issues or problems with any of my injuries and every lap I do, I feel better and better - and that makes me pretty confident of further improvement tomorrow."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"Leon was pretty much on the pace from the word go, which means that the chassis is in good enough shape for him to be confident straight away. He was running fifth for a while and I think that was realistic, but there's room for improvement for sure. John lost some valuable track time this morning because of a faulty coil. He brought the bike back and we checked it out thoroughly because we wanted to make sure it was a problem with a coil, not something mechanical or more serious. The boys sorted it out and all was OK again. This afternoon's qualifying went reasonably well, though Leon did suffer a bit with chatter. Because of this, he concentrated on getting a good rear end set-up instead of chasing lap times.
"John continued to get the laps in and be comfortable with the FIXI Crescent Suzuki and I'm sure he'd have been quicker at the end if we'd had enough time to fit a new front to complement the new rear. I'm optimistic that both Leon and John will get into Superpole and then the aim is to get good grid positions - it's particularly important at this circuit because it's very difficult to overtake in the first section of the track. If they can qualify well and make good starts, I'm sure good results will follow."
Misano Adriatico WSB Qualifying 1:
1. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1'36.521: 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1'36.568: 3. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1'36.703: 4. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1'36.795: 5. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1'36.806). 11. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'37.280. 16. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'37.514.