WSBK: Cluzel up, Camier Down after Opening Round

Camier leads Haslam at Phillip Island
Photo: Fixi Crescent Suzuki

After a successful pre-season test schedule down at Phillip Island, Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier was left frustrated after two disappointing races Down Under. Unfortunately for the Kent youngster his testing form deserted him despite his best efforts to the contrary, a poor start to race one and a wrong choice of tyre saw Camier fight to take ninth place just behind Jonathan Rea but in race two Camier was another victim of Chaz Davies’ incident and rejoined the track in last place. After that it was a case of head down and rattle off some fast laps to try and bridge the gap to the front pack but sadly Leon ran out of laps and brought the Suzuki GSX-R1000 home in ninth place again.

A disappointed Camier said “The first race was really difficult and the bike just didn’t feel like anything we’d been working on over the weekend. We really struggled and we made the wrong tyre choice – by the end of the race the tyre was destroyed! This was very strange because all weekend we’d done race runs on the tyres and it hadn’t shown wear like that. I’d put in good laps on used tyres in the test and during practice, so we were confident that it would work, but whatever the reason is, it didn’t! I got a better start in race two and tried to make some places up early on, but as I tried to go round the outside coming into a corner there was a big crash in front of me and I got taken out and on to the grass – so that was really the end of the race for me! The rest of the time was just spent catching up and racing with some other guys. I had to try and do what I could and I could see Jules and Johnny Rea coming back to me really quickly so I kept pushing, but just couldn’t get up to them. It’s frustrating because I felt that in the second race we had the package to challenge the front pack.”

Cluzel finding his style on his GSX-R1000
Photo: Fixi Crescent Suzuki

In contrast to to the Englishman, his French team-mate Jules Cluzel had a weekend to remember for his debut on board the Yoshimura-powered Fixi Crescent Suzuki. One week earlier Cluzel underwent surgery to repair a damaged elbow from a big testing crash at the Island but put all that behind him to record a firm eleventh place in race on and an excellent seventh in race two.

A bouyant Cluzel said “I am really happy with both races, even though the first one was very difficult, but I finished and learned a lot. We chose the wrong tyre in the first race, which was not a big problem because I need to learn and understand everything. I needed to do some laps today and I think in the two races today I did more laps than I had done all weekend – and maybe the test as well! It’s really good to finish the weekend like this and I am pleased for my team as well because they have had a tough time and worked really hard to get me on the track. I think today has been a good step for the future.”

Team Manager Paul Denning added “We will leave Australia after these two weeks in Phillip Island with a positive outlook because, irrespective of two quite disappointing results for Leon caused by the wrong tyre choice in race one and being knocked off the track in race two, we’ve still shown great potential and it’s clear that the bike is at a different level than it was 12-months ago. The whole team and both the riders have been superbly positive, despite a few issues – including five absolutely massive crashes in total! The guys have worked incredibly hard to be in good shape come race-day.

“Jules has shown that he is absolutely not scared of getting involved with the best Superbike riders in the world and we know very well that Leon’s potential – and that of the bike – is a lot better than two ninth places. We have a three-day test at Aragon at the start of April, where we have some new stuff coming to improve the bike further, and we’re really excited about the prospects for the season.”
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