FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier celebrated his birthday in style during today's Superpole for the 10th round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Silverstone in the UK by taking second on the grid.
Camier turned 26 today and began the party early by first recording the fourth quickest time in this morning's dry final qualifying session and then posting the fastest time of the weekend so far during the second free practice, to take top-place on the time-sheets.
As heavy rain fell early this afternoon, the Superpole was declared wet and, as the rules dictate, only two sessions were available instead of the usual three. Camier quickly got up to speed in the tricky conditions and made his way through to Superpole 2, where he made an impressive impact and looked to have done enough to have secured Pole Position, before he was knocked off the top-spot by Jakub Smrz at the very end of the session. Camier's second place today is the best for the Englishman in FIXI Crescent Suzuki colours - and the highest for the team so far this year - and it is just reward for the hard-work the crew has done over recent weeks to improve the Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R.
John Hopkins looked back to his racing best around the 5,902m Silverstone circuit this morning as he clocked the second fastest time in the final qualifying session to secure his Superpole place. Unfortunately the rain cost Hopkins a much higher grid position than he would have probably achieved if the conditions had remained dry, but the Anglo-American still produced a good performance in the difficult conditions - that saw many riders crash - to get a third-row start, with a 12th place on the grid for tomorrow's races.
Camier and Smrz will be joined on the front row by Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam, with reigning World Champion Carlos Checa seventh on the grid. Current championship leader Max Biaggi will start from eleventh for tomorrow's two 18-lap races, the first of which is scheduled to get underway at 12.00hrs local time.
"With Superpole coming to a close, I really thought that I had won it because there was so little time remaining, but then Smrz went faster and ruined my birthday! Although winning Superpole would've been good, it's a great feeling to be on the front row of the grid at last. It's been a long time coming, but we always believed we could do it. The boys have worked so hard to make the bike better and the improvements in the engine and the electronics have allowed me to be competitive again. My race pace has been good in the wet and the dry and we've got good set-ups for both conditions. So, if it is either dry or wet, we're ready! I hope it's going to be dry because I think the racing will be better and it'll be good for the fans as well."
"This morning I felt very confident and it was like business as usual again. I pushed hard in the dry, felt comfortable and was pretty happy to set the second quickest time. Then it began to rain, so we started sorting out a wet set-up for my FIXI Crescent Suzuki. Having qualified easily for Superpole meant that some of the pressure was off, so when it rained this afternoon and a 'Wet Superpole' was called it was just a matter of seeing what the weather would do and then try and find the limit of the tyres. In the first session I improved lap-by-lap and I tried my best on my final one, but just missed getting into the second Superpole by the smallest of margins. It was a shame because I would've liked to have been further up the grid and show the potential of the bike. I don't mind if it is wet or dry tomorrow, but I don't think anybody wants mixed conditions. For the sake of the fans, I hope it is dry, but whatever the conditions we have good set-ups. I think this is my best qualifying result this season and although the bike has made a huge improvement, the biggest improvement is in me."
Jack Valentine -Team Manager:
"Finally, we have shown our true potential and I am very happy for Leon, John and the whole FIXI Crescent Suzuki team. The boys have been working hard and today we saw the proof of their efforts. The engine has improved quite a bit recently and the electronics have also made a step forward and now I think we're in a stronger position to challenge the top guys. It's fantastic to see Leon second on the grid, but I feel a bit sorry for him, because he was leading Superpole until the final few moments. He's got a solid platform to work from and so I am expecting good things from him tomorrow. It's also great to have the old John back. What he did this morning was pretty amazing and it shows that he's got his confidence back. He normally gets good starts, so I expect him to be in the mix in both races. Hopefully the weather will not put a spoiler on the races and the racing will be good and also the results."
Silverstone - FIM Superbike World Championship - Superpole:
1. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 2'20.810
2. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 2'20.846
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 2'21.385
4. Leon Haslam (BMW) 2'21.613
5. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 2'21.951
12. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 2'24.274