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Camier cruelly robbed of Portuguese podium

FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier looked like taking his second podium of the season during today’s final race at the eni FIM Superbike World Championship from Portimao in Portugal only to see his hopes disappear in the closing stages.

Camier started from ninth on the grid and had made his way up to sixth by lap-three. He continued to close the gap on the leading riders as the race progressed and was in a position to challenge championship leader Max Biaggi when the race entered its final few laps. Camier tried to make a pass on the Italian, as the Aprilia rider ran slightly wide, but Biaggi didn’t see Camier on his inside and cut back across, accidently hitting the FIXI Crescent Suzuki man. Camier stayed on-board and gave chase again, before making another attempt to get past Biaggi, he succeeded briefly, but couldn’t make the pass stick, so continued to line up the Italian for another attack. Unfortunately disaster struck for Camier before he had the opportunity, as a transmission issue forced him into the pits and retirement from the race at the start of the very last lap – ruefully wondering what might have been.

In a disjointed and difficult first race, Camier was again looking menacing as he sat in eighth place and within touching distance of the riders in front, but due to an incident in the wet conditions the race was red flagged. A rider crashed on one of the many damp patches that were a result of the torrential rain that had fallen earlier and a re-start over 16-laps was ordered. Camier couldn’t quite find his rhythm in the second staging of the interrupted race and after a five-way battle for eighth place; he eventually finished in 11th on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R.

John Hopkins made a strong showing during his first races at the 4,592 Portuguese circuit, as he continued with his improvement over the demanding layout. In the second race – held in dry and sunny conditions – he made a good start from 19th on the grid and was up into 14th by lap-three. Hopkins continued to push for the remainder of the race and finally brought his FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R home for a safe and creditable 11th position, one place better than the 12th he secured in race one, where he too was in the battle for eighth with Camier and three other riders. Hopkins coped well with the difficult conditions in the first event and was unlucky not to pick up a top-10 result for his hard work.

Today’s races saw two different winners as Tom Sykes triumphed in race one, with Eugene Laverty on an Aprilia taking victory in the second event. Max Biaggi retained, and increased, his championship lead, with Sykes in second and Marco Melandri – who crashed in race one and was unable to participate in race two – now in third in the title chase.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki will next head to France, as the championship draws to a close, for the final two races of the season at Magny Cours on Sunday 7th October.

Leon Camier:
“The FIXI Crescent Suzuki worked really well in the morning warm-up, which took place in fully wet conditions, so I was quite happy about riding the bike in the same conditions in race one. When the race was restarted, the track was not completely wet and it began to dry out in some places. The settings we had just didn’t work as well as we hoped and I had to get round as best I could.

“Fortunately, race two was dry. I attacked right from the start and moved up the field. It took a bit of time to get past Guintoli, but once I had overtaken him I set about Biaggi. It was a close battle - close enough for us to make contact - and I really believed I could find a way past, make it stick and take third spot. I had a few problems with the gearbox during the race and then the bike locked up on me with two laps to go and I had to take to the run-off. I tried to keep going, but it happened a couple of times more and nearly spat me off, so I had no choice but to pull out. I’m happy though because the bike has come on a lot in the recent months and I now know we can fight with the best.”

John Hopkins:
“Although the results are a bit average and I’d have preferred better ones, I’m quite happy with today. The first race was very tricky and if there hadn’t been a red flag it would’ve taken place in full wet conditions and that would’ve been easier to manage. Once the track started drying out, conditions worsened and it was pretty difficult to get round - especially towards the end when the tyres had completely gone.

“I got a good start in race two, but got bumped off the track by another rider and lost quite a few places. After that I kept my head down and went as hard as I could for a finish. This was my first time at Portimao. It’s a pretty hard track to learn, but this weekend we found some good information on the bike and that makes me very happy about the future.”

Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
“It probably sounds a bit funny, but this has been a very productive and fantastic weekend for us and it’s been a good day for the team, because we’ve proved that we can be competitive and run with the best. I am very pleased because all the hard work the team have put in is showing dividends and it is a huge boost to our morale. It was great to see Leon fighting with Biaggi in the second race and this shows that the FIXI Crescent Suzuki is a genuine challenger. If it hadn’t been for the problem, I think we could’ve had another podium. The conditions in race one were hard for everybody and our bike settings didn’t work as well as we wanted, but even so, we learnt something and found some good directions for the future. Both riders brought their bikes home in the points, but I’m sure the results would’ve been better if the race had taken place in the wet, instead of half-and-half.

“John rode solidly in both races today and had some fun again and that’s good to see. Even though Leon failed to finish the second race today, the team are on a high, all really pumped up and looking forward to the next round. We want to show that our recent form has been no fluke and we’ll be going all-out for podiums at Magny-Cours.”

Portimao - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race one:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 31'42.011: 2. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 31'42.311: 3. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 31'44.743: 4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 31'53.575: 5. Brett McCormick (Ducati) 31'53.782: 11. LEON CAMIER (FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI) 32'13.721: 12. JOHN HOPKINS (FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI) 32'15.178:

Portimao - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race two:
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) 38'35.105: 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 38'35.267: 3. Biaggi 38'38.871: 4. Guintoli 38'45.545: 5. Checa 38'55.258: 11. JOHN HOPKINS (FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI) 39'22.919: DNF. LEON CAMIER (FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI):

World Championship Classification:
1. Biaggi 347: 2. Sykes 316.5: 3. Marco Melandri (BMW) 308.5: 4. Checa 278.5: 5. Rea 255.5: 14. LEON CAMIER (FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI) 109.5: 19. JOHN HOPKINS (FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI) 44: