FIXI Crescent Suzuki is in Russia this weekend for the 11th round of this year's eni FIM Superbike World Championship to compete in the first event of its kind to be staged at the Moscow International Raceway.
Leon Camier and John Hopkins will join the rest of the Superbike field on an equal footing for the first time this season, as nobody will have any prior knowledge or data of the track. This is the first time the circuit has hosted such an event and an extra test session has been organised for Wednesday 22nd August, so that the riders can get to know the track, before the real action starts this coming weekend for the first-ever World Championship road-racing event in Russia.
The track is built on a slope and its layout follows the natural terrain, including a number of uphill and downhill sections. There are many corners offering a mixture of fast and slow sections, plus one of the longest straights (one kilometre in length) in the championship, over its 3,931m length - in its WSBK layout. The track is located approximately 100kms from Moscow, along the Novorizhsky Highway and the circuit has already received FIA Grade 1T and FIM B homologation and is ready to welcome competitions of any level, from National Cups to international automotive and motorcycling championships. Hermann Tilke designed the Moscow Raceway, with the cost to build this fantastic complex being in the region of €130 million.
Camier, Hopkins and the rest of the WSB field will first take to the track on Friday morning for the first competitive two-wheeled action on the Russian circuit, before competing in the opening qualifying practice in the afternoon. Saturday morning will have a second qualifying session to confirm the 16-riders that will progress towards that afternoon's Superpole session, which will see them compete for the best grid positions for Sunday's two races. The first race - to be held over 25-laps- is first scheduled for 12.00hrs local time (09.00hrs BST), with the second event set to get underway at 15.30hrs local time (12.30hrs BST).
"It's a new track for all of us, so learning it is going to be the first priority. As it is new for everybody, nobody will have any previous data or info, so we will not be at a disadvantage from the start - as we have been at other circuits. Recently, our FIXI Crescent Suzuki has improved a lot - thanks to the hard work of the whole team - and John and I have been enjoying riding the bike a lot more. The only thing that concerns me about the track in Moscow is the very long straight - as our bike has not got the same top speed as some of our competitors. Hopefully, we'll get the bike dialled in pretty quickly and qualify well - as we did in the last round and hopefully the weather will be kinder to us as well."
"There's not much to say really, as this is a whole new experience for all of us. It's hard to know what to expect, but at least I know that I learn tracks pretty quickly. I've been so much happier recently and I could do more or less what I wanted to do with my FIXI Crescent Suzuki last time out. My confidence has come back and I'm happy pushing the bike hard again. I'm sure I would have had better results if the weather had been consistent in the last round, but that's one thing none of us can plan for. The bike's going great at the moment and I want to carry on the momentum this coming weekend and get some good results."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"A new track, so it's the same situation for all of us to deal with. We start at the same level as everybody else and that's a first this season, so it'll be interesting to see how it goes. The bike has improved a lot recently and you can see that by how happy the riders are. We were unlucky with the weather at Silverstone, so hopefully this weekend will be dry or at least consistent throughout. It's good to see John at the top of his game again and enjoying the racing. I'm also happy because Leon showed our potential in qualifying in the last round. The team have worked their socks off recently and it would be good to see some rewards for all their efforts. Once again, our first goal is to qualify well and be on the front two rows of the grid on race-day. I'm confident that Leon and John will be giving it everything they've got and hopefully the results will come."