-- World Superbike Test - Suzuki’s Leon Camier fastest after late burst
-- World Supersport - Australian young gun Josh Hook 7th fastest
Suzuki’s big 2013 World Superbike hope Leon Camier has pipped a red-hot field to set the fastest time at Phillip Island on day one of the final pre-season test ahead of the season-opening round from February 22-24.
The 25-year-old from Ashford in England resumed where he left off in a private test at Phillip Island last week, and his strong form saw him set a best time of 1m31.243s, well under the existing lap record of 1:31.785 and within reach of the fastest ever WSBK lap around the 4.445km circuit – a 1:30.882.
Camier is chasing Suzuki’s first WSBK title since Australia’s Troy Corser went all the way in 2005.
Camier may have been the pacesetter, but it was extremely tight at the top of the timesheets, with eight other riders also recording times in the 1:31 bracket. The gap between the top 12 fastest bikes was less than a second – with Australian wildcard Jamie Stauffer sneaking his Honda into that bracket in what was promising hitout for the 33-year-old veteran.
With the majority of the field managing to remain upright today after an inexplicable catalogue of high-speed crashes last week – German hard charger Max Neukirchner one of the exceptions on his Ducati – there was plenty of track time available for riders to really get into the groove on the resurfaced track. As a result, only Rea failed to go faster in this afternoon’s second session, while Neukirchner didn’t ride after being sent to hospital for observation after his big crash at turn 11 earlier in the day.
Behind Camier came Briton and 2010 Phillip Island winner Leon Haslam (Honda, 1:31.396), followed by Aprilia duo Michel Fabrizio (Aprilia, 1:31.401) and Eugene Laverty (1:31.452), BMW’s Marco Melandri (1:31.481) and Ducati’s Carlos Checa (1:31.523).
Today was Checa’s first hitout at Phillip Island on the all-new Panigale 1199 RS after recent illness, but he seemingly made up for lost time as he punched out 54 laps in today’s two sessions – one of the busiest riders on the circuit.
Kawasaki also snuck into the top 10 courtesy of British hard charger Tom Sykes, who is riding with a hairline fracture of his left wrist after a crash last Thursday. Sykes, pipped to the 2012 title by half-a-point, has dominated pre-season testing in Europe.
Stauffer (Honda) was 12th fastest, and fellow Aussie Glenn Allerton (BMW) 18th.
Jamie Stauffer - “My time was the fastest I have ever been around here. My previous best was a 1m32.6 , so am pretty happy with a 32.2
“We are doing it on our own, and yes we are a bit down in speed. But you have to expect that. The guys I am up against have put so much time into development work. This is a one off engine so my team has done a fabulous job.
"Phillip Island have done a good job on the track, there’s a lot more grip in it. There’s a couple of bumps in and out of Southern Loop but it is pretty close to perfect
In World Supersport, young gun Josh Hook put the internationals on notice that he’ll be a force in this Sunday’s race with the seventh fastest time on his Honda Racing Corporation (HRC)-backed CBR600RR.
HRC, the same organisation which guided Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner to their MotoGP titles, has sent out an engine builder and electronics guru from Japan to assist Hook’s local Honda team, and the 20-year-old from Taree (NSW) is amazed with the end result.
“I got on that bike this morning and I have probably 15 horsepower more than the domestic-spec bike I tested last week,” said Hook. “ It’s all new to us, but I am happy with the results and we are moving forward.
“I know now that I have the best bike out there, I have the speed, so it now comes down to my ability. I dreamt of a top five finish, but I didn’t really think it was realistic.
“But I am starting to have second thoughts now. I actually think it is possible.”
Paul Free - Team Honda Manager - On Josh…”I think he can win it, and Japan obviously think that too. He winds up as the week progresses and he’ll be humming by Friday."
As for the remainder of the Australian contingent, Kevin Curtain (Yamaha) was 14th, followed by Mitchell Carr (Triumph, 20th) and Matt Davies (Honda, 32nd).
Briton Sam Lowes set the pace on his Russian-backed Yamaha, followed by 2012 world champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) and Lowes’ team-mate Vladimir Leonov.
A bumper crop of 35 riders will line up on the grid for Sunday’s 21-lap World Supersport race.
World Superbike and Supersport testing concludes tomorrow (February 19).
WORLD SUPERBIKE DAY ONE BEST TIMES
1 Leon Camier GBR Suzuki 1:31.243
2 Leon Haslam GBR Honda 1:31.396
3 Michel Fabrizio ITA Aprilia 1:31.401
4 Eugene Laverty IRL Aprilia 1:31.452
5 Marco Melandri ITA BMW 1:31.485
6 Carlos Checa SPA Ducati 1:31.523
7 Davide Giugliano ITA Aprilia 1:31.701
8 Sylvain Guintoli FRA Aprilia 1:31.980
9 Jonathan Rea GBR Honda 1:31.980
10 Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki 1:32.061
12 Jamie Stauffer AUS Honda 1:32.231
18 Glenn Allerton AUS BMW 1:34.009
-- Suzuki Report
FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Leon Camier continued his good run of form in the pre-season WSB tests by topping the timesheets on the first day of the Official eni FIM Superbike World Championship test at Phillip Island today.
Camier made consistent progression this afternoon around the 4,445m Australian circuit, before setting a fastest time of 1'31.243, more than half-a-second quicker than Max Biaggi's lap record. Camier completed 44 laps in the sweltering Phillip Island heat as air temperatures reached 35°C during the afternoon session. Camier had used this morning as a shakedown test to assess his newly-built Suzuki GSX-R1000 after the huge crash in last week's tests and, following a few adjustments by his crew during the lunch period, he put the Yoshimura-powered machine to good use to storm his way to the top of the charts.
Jules Cluzel made steady steps forward as he utilised today's sessions to work his way back to confidence following his operation for the injury he sustained in last week's test. Cluzel worked thoroughly and methodically as he completed 62 laps throughout the day. He gradually improved his time and made consistent runs as he continued his steep learning curve on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki Superbike. Cluzel finished the day in 14th position with a best time of 1'32.817, just a second-and-a-half away from his team-mate.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki has one more day of pre-season testing tomorrow as it makes its final preparations in readiness for the first races of the season this Sunday.
Leon Camier: "We needed to change some stuff after the bike had been re-built, so this morning was there no big hurry to push from the start. We changed the bike a bit in the lunch-break, because unfortunately it didn't quite feel the same as it did before I smashed it up last week! The feeling came back and we also had to change quite a bit because of the heat, I did the same lap-time in the cooler conditions last week as I did in the heat today, so I think we did a pretty good job. It's very close at the top, so it doesn't really count for anything, because the race will be difficult and the other guys have got some time to perfect what they've got. We are in quite good shape at the moment, but we know there is still a lot to do for the rest of this week."
Jules Cluzel: "I am happy with the test today, because I did a lot of laps and improved a little bit every time I went out. They weren't big steps, because big steps with a Superbike are very dangerous - as I managed to find out at the test last Thursday! We tried many things today and didn't really push for a fast lap time, but tried to work in the best way and find the setting that is good for me. Tomorrow we have another test and I will try to continue to improve and then see what will happen from there."
Paul Denning - Team Manager: "It's been a very successful day's work, especially if we consider that at the end of the unofficial test, Jules was in hospital and Leon's bike was in the trees outside turn 12! We had a few technical issues with Leon's newly-built bike this morning, but the crew worked methodically through those and Leon was able to use that to his advantage this afternoon. He matched his time from the unofficial tests, but in much hotter conditions and coming back from the huge crash, so it great to see his confidence build step-by-step and at the end of the day show his true potential.
"Jules did a great job today, because things were looking very difficult after the first day of last week's test! Making a lot of laps, regaining some feeling and confidence and understanding the effects of the changes that crew were making, means he has ended up with a good base to take forward. His repaired arm isn't causing him any problems on the track and we now have something solid to work with tomorrow as we approach the first round of the championship."
-- Althea Ducati Report
The Althea Racing team is continuing its progress in the first round of the World Superbike Championship, to be held at Phillip Island in Australia, the track where today Davide Giugliano finished the first of two days of testing where all the riders of the 2013 World Superbike were on track. A sunny day and high temperatures have characterized this first day. In the morning Davide Giugliano covered 26 laps and got the third fastest time in 1'31 "924. A great performance made even more important by the fact that Davide has recorded his best time with worn tires. In the afternoon, the outside temperature further increased, making the task difficult both for technicians and the Althea Team rider.
At the end of the second session Giugliano got the seventh place overall with a time of 1'31 "701, improving by two tenths his preceding time. Tomorrow the Althea Racing team will continue working on the set-up of Giugliano’s Aprilia RSV4 with the intention of improving the lap time, but especially to prepare the bike for the races of Sunday.
Davide Giugliano : “If we stop and think that this is just one of the first tests we have done with the RSV4, the result can only be positive, because we are only a few tenths of a second from an official Aprilia rider who uses this bike for quite some time. But I know my potential, that of my team and that of my bike so I am not fully satisfied with what we did today as we could have done better.
Initially, I found it hard to adapt with these tires, but then my team prepared at best my Aprilia and I got my best time; both this morning and afternoon with worn tires. We must continue on this route and continue to work to the best of our abilities because there are still many days to the race and I am sure we can improve.”
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