FIXI Crescent Suzuki racers Leon Camier and John Hopkins will start the ninth round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship from Brno in the Czech Republic tomorrow on the fourth row of the grid.
Camier comfortably qualified for this afternoon's Superpole session following this morning's final qualifying and a high-placed grid position looked in his grasp with just minutes of Superpole one remaining. He was in fifth place, but was bumped down the leader-board as other riders posted quicker times in the final part of the session, leaving the Englishman on the edge of the top-12 that went through to the second session. His time of 1'59.789 was good enough for 13th overall and he will start tomorrow's races from the head of the fourth row.
Hopkins made sure of his participation in this afternoon's Superpole on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R and was in a confident mood of producing his best grid position of the year so far. He recorded his fastest lap of the weekend during the first Superpole session, with a time of 1'59.973, but it just wasn't enough to carry him through to final shoot-out and he will start Sunday's races from 16th on the grid.
Following the elimination of the FIXI Crescent Suzuki racers, the Superpole session was delayed by an oil spill and the time taken to make the track safe. When it finally resumed, it was declared wet as the rain had started to fall, so the remaining 12-riders only had a single 20-minute session. Tom Sykes on a Kawasaki took pole - for the seventh time this season. He will be joined on the front-row by Carlos Checa, Eugene Laverty and Davide Giugliano. Current championship leader Max Biaggi will start from 14th on the grid.
Camier, Hopkins and the rest of the World Superbike field will line up for the first of tomorrow's races at the 5,403m Czech circuit at 12.00 local time (11.00hrs BST), with race two scheduled for 15.00hrs local time (14.00hrs BST), when both the FIXI Crescent Suzuki riders will be looking for good starts to get in amongst the action early on.
"Our FIXI Crescent Suzuki has definitely improved a bit since the last round in Aragon and I'm pretty happy with it and the set-up on race tyres. In Superpole 1 we started out on a race tyre and I found myself in a bit of a freight train at first, but the good news is that I was staying with the fast guys fairly easily and that felt pretty good. When we put in the qualifying tyre to go faster, I felt it chatter almost right from the start of the lap. I pushed as hard as I could, but the chatter got worse and I nearly lost the front a couple of times. If I hadn't had the chatter, I'm sure I would've qualified for Superpole 2, and then who knows how far I could've gone."
"Basically we spent most of the day working on finding a good set-up and trying to improve the chatter. We also tried some different tyres and, at the end of normal qualifying, the bike had the least amount of chatter it's had all season. I started Superpole 1 on race tyres and made a couple of little mistakes and I don't think I maximised the potential of the tyres. We put in a qualifier late on in Superpole 1 and, because we've been struggling all year with them, I was bit sceptical about how they would perform, so I was a bit cautious at first. I then started to go quicker, but misjudged the amount of time left and the chequered flag came down before I could put in a faster lap."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"I genuinely thought we could've progressed further in Superpole with Leon and, in the end, he missed it by the narrowest of margins. His pace in Superpole 1 was good but he didn't get the best out of his qualifying tyre and was bumped down in the last minute. I felt sure he'd do it today and it's disappointing he didn't manage it. John went out on his qualifying tyre, but didn't go for it on his first lap and ran out of time before he could put in a quicker one before the flag came out. On a positive note, both riders are happy with the bike's chassis, their race set-ups and the feel of the engine. I think the bike is probably the best it has been all year, so I'm gutted that we didn't get into Superpole 2. I hope both riders can get good starts and if they can get on the back of the lead pack then good results are possible."
Brno - eni FIM Superbike World Championship - Superpole:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki ZX-10R) 1'58.010: 2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1'58.470: 3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 1'58.741: 4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1'58.789: 5. Marco Melandri (BMW) 1'58.885. 13. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'59.439. 16. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 1'59.973.