Leon Camier completed his first test with the Crescent Suzuki Team this wee at Portimao. Camier’s teammate, John Hopkins, couldn’t make the test due to an injury, but recently crowned British Supersport Champion Alastair Seeley was there to help test the Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Camier’s first day of testing didn’t go too smoothly due to a front brake issue, but after the slow start the Crescent Suzuki team was able to gradually increase its speed.
Camier posted a best lap time of 1’43.7, a second off of Eugene Laverty who set the fastest time of the session on his Aprilia. Seeley was also able to post an impressive time. Seeley ended the final day of testing with a 1’43.5 lap.
“Unfortunately we had a few issues throughout the test, which can easily happen with new parts and systems, but I must say I really like the initial feel of the bike,” Camier said. “The first day was pretty much lost due to the front brake problem and we had some issues with the new electronics – so there is still a lot to try out still with the chassis to find the exactly right set-up for me.
“But at least we now know what needs to be done and we can head in the right direction at the next test, where I hope to get a lot more time out on track to find my ideal setting and post some faster lap times.”
Alastair Seeley added:
“This was certainly a tough track to learn with its many undulations, but I soon got into the swing of things. We didn’t do an awful lot to the chassis set-up of the bike and focused mainly on the electronics, which just kept getting better throughout. Towards the end the bike felt really good and I managed to post a good time on the soft tyres.”
Leon Haslam will be entering the six-week winter break with a smile on his face. Haslam and the BMW team just completed a successful three day test in Portugal to get ready for the 2012 World Superbike season.
“I am very happy. It was very good to come back to Portimão and set constantly quick lap times on this track, on which we were not so competitive last season,” said BMW Motorrad factory rider Leon Haslam. “This shows that we have taken a really good step forward, particularly in regard to the engine characteristic and the electronics. We also found very good settings with the new chassis. The team will now use the coming two months to prepare everything for Australia.”
The World Superbike riders won’t be able to test again until mid-January. Most riders on the grid will be anxious to get back on the bike, but Haslam will have plenty of things to distract him during the Winter break. Haslam is expecting his first child very soon.
“If we continue in this direction, everything is looking good for Phillip Island. I will now return to England and have an intensive fitness programme with my trainer lined up for December and January. And I am really excited about the birth of our first child very soon.”
Haslam was the quickest on the frist two days of the test, and ended the session with a best time of 1’42.2.
While most of the World Superbike grid was at Portimao for their final three days of testing before the winter break, Kawasaki riders Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz hit the track at Valencia.
The KRT Racing Team tested for three days at Valencia, where Sykes set a best lap of 1’33.1, which is about a tenth of a second faster than the fastest qualifying time set at the circuit.
“The tests went well and we ended up doing a 1’33.1 lap time on a race tire,” Sykes said. “We have worked through a lot of different things, we are working well in the garage and I am relaxed… We have a new electronics package and found a better overall machine balance for me… I think we have come a long way even since the post-season Portimao test. The bike tells me what it is doing quite a lot better than before, and the improved feedback tells me when I am arriving at the limit.”
Sykes and Lascorz worked with the KRT Superbike team to get the Ninja ZX-10R race ready since a new testing ban will keep the World Superbike riders won’t be able to ride during the winter months.
The KRT Team will get to hit the track one more time before the 2012 World Superbike season begins at Phillip Island. Sykes and Lascorz will have their final testing session in mid-January at Almeria.
“I am very happy the way the test went because I set good lap times and I was very happy with the performance of the bike and the team,” Lascorz said. “We made a lot of changes to the bike, changed a lot of general settings and worked on the suspension. Some are now much different from last year. All the staff worked well together again. I think I learned most from this test in terms of finding out more about our latest machine settings and then finding a more consistent good pace. These things should allow us to challenge closer to the top in 2012. Tom was very fast and we both worked well with race tires.”
The Aprilia riders were at the front of the pack at the end of the World Superbike testing session at Portimao. Eugene Laverty took the top spot ahead of his fellow Aprilia rider max Biaggi.
Laverty, who raced a Yamaha in 2011, set the unofficial lap record at the Portimao circuit. Laverty brought the RSV4 around the track in 1’42.7, beating out Max Biaggi’s 2010 record by .07 seconds. Biaggi nearly broke his record too, with a 1’42.8 laptime.
Chaz Davies, the third Aprilia rider, finished 6th for the day with a 1’43.2 laptime.
Chasing Laverty and Biaggi around the track was a string of BMW riders. Ayrton Badovini, Leon Haslam, and Marco Melandri took places three through five on the final day of testing.
“I am very happy. It was very good to come back to Portimão and set constantly quick lap times on this track, on which we were not so competitive last season,” said BMW Motorrad factory rider Leon Haslam. “This shows that we have taken a really good step forward, particularly in regard to the engine characteristic and the electronics. We also found very good settings with the new chassis. The team will now use the coming two months to prepare everything for Australia. If we continue in this direction, everything is looking good for Phillip Island. I will now return to England and have an intensive fitness programme with my trainer lined up for December and January. And I am really excited about the birth of our first child very soon.”
The Portimao test was the last testing session for the World Superbike riders until after the Winter. The new winter testing ban will go into effect tomorrow and will last until January 15th. The first round of the 2012 World Superbike season will be held at Phillip Island in Australia on February 26th.
Overall unofficial times (with qualifying tyre times in brackets): 1. Laverty (Aprilia) 1’42.7; 2. Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’42.8; 3. Badovini (BMW) 1’43.1 (1’42.5); 4. Haslam (BMW) 1’43.1 (1’42.2); 5. Melandri (BMW) 1’43.1 (1’42.4); 6. Davies (Aprilia) 1’43.2; 7. Camier (Suzuki) 1’43.8; 8. Fabrizio (BMW) 1’43.9 (1’43.3); 9. Seeley (Suzuki) 1’44.1 (1’43.5).
John Hopkins will be riding in the World Superbike series in 2012 for the Crescent Suzuki team. Hopkins and the Crescent Suzuki team nearly claimed the British Superbike Championship in 2011 and they are excited to compete on the world stage.
“I am really happy to be joining up with the Crescent guys again, we had a great year in British Superbike and I’m sure we can continue that in WSB,” Hopkins said. “I wanted to get back into world championship racing and this is a natural progression from last year, the difference this time is that I will be going to tracks that I already know and have some reference from so that should make some things a bit easier.
“I know it’s going to be a big step, but with some big technical advances and Yoshimura on board I’m sure the bike will be fully competitive. It will be great to work with Lez Pearson again, as we built up a strong relationship and his understanding of the way the bike works will be invaluable next year. I’m also looking forward to riding with Leon, I’m sure he’ll be strong next year and will be a difficult team-mate to beat and also one that will push me to the limit. I want to say thanks to Paul, Martyn, Jack and everyone at Crescent Suzuki for believing in me and giving me this opportunity, I can’t wait to get on the bike and see what we can do. I know it’s not going to be an easy task by any means, bit I have every intention of going out and trying to earn my first ever world championship for myself and the team – I’ll be doing everything in my power to make it happen!”
Hopkins raced in the BSB, WSB, and MotoGP in 2011. He injured his finger toward the end of the season and is currently recovering before he starts testing the 2012 Suzuki.
“It’s great to have John back onboard for next year and a real boost for the whole team that he has chosen to ride for us,” said Jack Valentine, Team Manager. “He is a class act; not only for Crescent Suzuki, but for the whole superbike series as well – the crowds will love him! I enjoyed working with him this year and, although he rode in the last three events with a severely injured finger, he only just missed out on the championship. That is history now and I look forward to continuing the relationship and building on what we achieved this year. I’m sure with what he learnt in BSB, and his experience on the tracks we will visit next year, that he will be able to get some spectacular results. I know he’s really fired up for this and I’m looking forward to some exciting times.”
Crescent Suzuki will also be enlisting the help of former BSB champion Leon Camier.