FIXI Crescent Suzuki racers Leon Camier and John Hopkins had mixed fortunes during today's 10th round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship from Silverstone in England as inclement weather caused chaos in both races.
Camier looked like he would take a podium in the first race - which had already been red-flagged and restarted due to an earlier incident - as he moved up into second place with only four laps remaining, after an impressive race had seen him battle through the field to move into a top-three position. Unfortunately the conditions caught out the Englishman and he crashed in a wet part of the track. He tried to re-mount but was unable to continue, leaving him bitterly disappointed at what might have been. In the second race Camier had to take evasive action and get off the track as a mechanical issue made him head to the gravel and an early retirement. Camier had looked good on track all weekend and the Silverstone crowd rose to applaud his efforts as he walked back to the pits with little reward from his promising performances.
Hopkins scored his best result of the season so far during today's second race, as he continued his return to form. The event was started late due to rain beginning to fall over the 5,902m circuit, which increased as the race wore on. Hopkins made a solid start on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R and was looking comfortable and smooth in the very tricky conditions. As the race progressed the rain got heavier, causing many riders to crash and the red flag being shown to stop the race. Although the race was ended early a result was declared and Hopkins finished in 10th to give him his first top-10 of the season. In race one he suffered an electrical fault and was forced to retire early.
Today's races were held in mixed and difficult conditions with crashes, red flags and unusual results being the order of the day. The first race was won by Frenchman Loris Baz on a Kawasaki, with his fellow countryman Sylvain Guintoli taking victory in the second event. Max Biaggi still leads the championship, with Marco Melandri now closing the gap to just 10.5 points after today.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki will next be in action at the new Moscow circuit on Sunday 26th August, when World Superbikes visits Russia for the first time, but Camier, Hopkins and the rest of the team will be on-hand at the Crescent HQ in Verwood, England tomorrow evening (Monday), for a very special open evening in honour of the team, that starts at 17.30 local time and is open to all fans and visitors.
"It's been a frustrating day really because I felt we had the pace in the wet or dry after setting the fastest lap of the weekend in free practice and the qualifying in second in the wet. These are both positive things for me and the team, but unfortunately the results didn't come today. It was very difficult conditions in race one and easy to make a mistake. I didn't think I did anything wrong, but the rear came round and high-sided me off, so that was it - which was really annoying as a podium was possible. In race two the bike felt all over the place in the drier conditions, but as it rained more the wet tyres worked better and it felt good. We had an engine problem early on and it meant that we couldn't complete the race, which, as I said, was very frustrating. Although I took no points this weekend, I'm not too disappointed because we had really good pace, the bike has improved and we showed we have a really good chance of getting results now."
"In the first race the conditions were quite tricky and I got banged-up a bit in the first couple of corners and dropped back quite a lot. We had made some set-up changes just before the race and they might have hindered us a bit, because I never really got to grips with it and I got stuck in a group lower down the order, but then unfortunately I had an electrical issue that put me out of the race, so that was a bit disappointing. In race two we were hoping it would be either full wet or totally dry. We took the gamble with wet tyres and it rained as we got to the grid so it was the correct choice. I got off the line well enough and had a good race from the start. Then it started to rain heavily and it was carnage out there, lots of guys crashed and we were all hydroplaning, which was a shame because I felt good out there before that and the FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R was going really well and I am sure we could have finished higher than 10th. The bike had huge potential here this weekend, the engine was working strong, I'd made a break-through in confidence and was feeling good, but for one reason or another it didn't quite come together in the race, but it is what it is and that's how racing goes. The bike is a lot better now and that is something we can take forward into the remaining races."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"It started off a good weekend with plenty of positives. Leon was running strong in all sessions despite the conditions and John showed signs of his old self as his confidence started to return and it was good to see him in the top-10. We qualified well and just missed out on the pole, but it was the team's first front row start of 2012, which was great at the home round for all our sponsors, guests and fans. The results on race-day were a bit disappointing, but we have shown that the team can now run at the sharp-end - where we should be - and we have made big steps this weekend on the engine side of things. Both riders said they were happy with the improved performance and as Leon showed, it helped him run up towards the front, which he hasn't been able to do up until now.
"We will now go back to the workshop and work on what we have learned this weekend with our engine partners Yoshimura, to try and find some more improvements for Moscow and try to continue in the same way there as we did here at Silverstone this weekend."
Silverstone - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 1:
1. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 40'46.128
2. Michel Fabrizio (BMW) +0.383
3. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) +0.459
4. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.539
5. Carlos Checa (Ducati) +1.012
DNF. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki)
DNF. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki)
Silverstone - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 2:
1. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 19'42.051
2. Baz +0.881
3. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) +1.671
4. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +19.045
5. Maxime Berger (Ducati) +22.116
10. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +27.194
DNF. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki)
World Championship Classification:
1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 274
2. Marco Melandri (BMW) 263.5
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 222.5
4. Checa 220.5: 5. Rea 203.5
16. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 65.5
21. John Hopkins (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) 17