FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier produced a strong performance on day one of the 10th round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship from the team's home track at Silverstone to record the fourth-quickest time.
Camier settled into a good groove in this morning's first free practice session and would have recorded a faster time, but the English weather intervened and heavy rain stopped him from improving. During this afternoon's first qualifying session, Camier was consistently in the top-five in the sunny, but blustery, conditions and ended the session with a time of 2'06.617 from his 14 laps around the 5,902m Silverstone circuit.
John Hopkins (2'07.007, 14 laps) also weighed in with one of his best Friday performances of the year so far as he posted the 10th-quickest time during this afternoon's session to equal his position on day one at Aragon. Hopkins started to show the form around the Northamptonshire track that gave him pole position in last year's WSB race when he appeared as a wild-card rider for the Crescent Suzuki team. He was pleased with his day's work on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R and is feeling in a confident mood for the weekend ahead.
Today's best time was set by Englishman Tom Sykes with Carlos Checa and Sylvain Guintoli accompanying Camier on the provisional front row. Current Championship leader Max Biaggi is down in 17th place. As things stand, the two FIXI Crescent Suzuki racers are comfortably inside the top-16 for tomorrow's Superpole and with rain forecast for Saturday, it looks like Camier and Hopkins will be competing in that session for the best grid positions for Sunday's two races.
"Today was one of my best first day results so far and it could've been better! I had a small problem with a harsh feeling with a tyre this afternoon - otherwise I could've lapped even quicker. Conditions were a bit tricky today. The morning session started dry and before the rain came down, I spent the time getting used to my FIXI Crescent Suzuki again, after riding the Yoshimura Suzuki in the Suzuka 8-hour race last week. It took a little time to dial myself in and then the rain fell, but our rain set-up worked pretty well, so I'm happy about that. Although there was no rain during this afternoon's timed qualifying, there were a lot of damp patches so you had to be aware of them and not push too hard. The track then dried out and everybody started going for it. I began with a hard tyre than switched to a softer one, but the feeling going into the turns was a bit harsh, otherwise I could've gone faster for sure. The GSX-R's chassis feels good and there is definitely an improvement in the engine performance when I am following other riders; and the initial punch out of the corners is also better, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow."
"The weather caught me out a bit this morning and I hadn't put in a decent lap when the rain came down. I started the session re-learning the track and building my confidence and then pitted to put on some fresh rubber. But while I was in the pits, it started raining and my chance of a fast lap was gone. The bike felt pretty good in the wet though and that was encouraging. Timed qualifying began with wet patches all over the track, so you had to be careful. We kept working on improving the bike as the track dried and, by the end, the FIXI Crescent Suzuki felt pretty good - by far the best it has been all year. I'm also happy because I had a bit of a breakthrough today: I felt I could throw the bike into the corners and was confident that it would stick. It was a good session for me and I felt pumped by the end."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"Today was a very satisfying day and we are where we should be. All the hard work the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team has put in is paying off and it shows on the track. Now we've got to maintain this performance tomorrow and do well in qualifying and Superpole. I'm happy both riders are easily in the provisional top-16, so if it rains in tomorrow morning's qualifying we're all set for Superpole. It's great to have Leon in the top four today and John in the top 10, though John would've gone faster if he had not had a problem with his boot getting caught up in the rear foot plate! It's been a good day for the team and hopefully there's more to come tomorrow."
Silverstone - FIM Superbike World Championship - Qualifying 1:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 2'06.115
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 2'06.148
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 2'06.576
4. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 2'06.617
5. Chaz Davies (Aprilia) 2'06.684
10. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 2'07.007