WSBK, Miller Motorsport Park, USA, 27 May 2012
Tom Sykes and his Kawasaki Racing Team crew overcame some early set-up issues at Miller Motorsports Park to take a front row start in third place after Superpole. Young rider Loris Baz qualified 17th.
Sykes had taken four pole positions in 2012 prior to Miller World Superbike but did not look set to secure a fifth after he found difficulties in some sectors at what is a unique circuit on the calendar, where some blind turns are initiated with a partially open throttle.
With one main practice session undertaken in wet conditions and a track surface which appears to be bumpier and less consistent than last year, Sykes and his team made a late change to his Ninja ZX-10R’s chassis set-up and he found an immediate improvement in pace, which they carried all the way through the three Superpole sessions, heading up all but two of his 23 rivals at this particular event.
Tom hopes to be able to translate that qualifying improvement into a race set-up for Monday’s two 21-lap World Superbike events and add to his current podium tally of six, which includes a race win at Monza.
Loris Baz found his first experience of riding on the 4.907km circuit near Salt Lake City an enjoyable and exciting one and he came close to qualifying inside the top 16 and progressing in Superpole. He starts 17th on the grid and will look for improvements at certain points of the circuit before facing his two SBK races on Monday.
David Salom and Leandro Mercado, from the Team Perdercini Kawasaki squad, qualified 19th and 22nd respectively.
Front Row Start For Sykes At Miller Motorsports Park World Superbike
Team Suzuki Press Release
FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier made steady and impressive progress during the first qualifying session for the sixth round of the World Superbike Championship at Miller Motorsports Park in America today.
Camier (P10, 1’50.520) finished only 0.678 seconds off the quickest time of the day at the end of his 16 completed laps around the 4,907m American circuit.
He improved consistently throughout the 45-minute qualifying session as he constantly made steps with his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R.
John Hopkins is making a welcome return to the team this weekend after missing the last event due to injury.
He made a solid start today as he began a steep learning curve to understand the circuit on his first visit to Miller Park, as well as pushing to get race-fit for this weekend’s races.
Hopkins finished the first qualifying session in 17th place with a time of 1’51,512, but is convinced he will improve in tomorrow’s second qualifying to secure his place in Superpole.
Today’s first practice session was held in wet conditions, but fortunately the track had dried in time for this afternoon’s Qualifying. The strong winds made it difficult for all riders and with the air temperatures only getting up to 15°C – and the track reaching 20°C – conditions were never very favourable. Provisional Pole was set by Jakub Smrz on a Ducati.
Camier and Hopkins will have a further qualifying session tomorrow morning (09.45hrs local time – 16.45hrs BST) to attempt to qualify for the 16-place Superpole shootout in the afternoon, which will see them push for the best grid positions for Monday’s races.
Leon Camier close to 2012 Miller World Superbike Provisional Pole
Team Suzuki News Release
FIXI Crescent Suzuki is back to full strength this weekend as John Hopkins joins team-mate Leon Camier for the World Superbike Championship sixth round at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City for the American round of the series.
Hopkins, who has been recovering at home in America from foot and hip injuries sustained at the fourth round of the series at Monza in Italy earlier this month, has been given the all-clear to race after missing the European round of the series at Donington Park in England a fortnight ago, where Camier took a season-best result of fourth in the second race.
Hopkins is optimistic about his fitness, but will have pain-killing injections as he takes to the track on Saturday in preparation for Monday’s race.
It will be his first race at Miller, but both riders are upbeat and looking forward to taking advantage of the newly-uprated and improved Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-Rs; particularly Camier who has raced to two second-placed finishes at the American circuit.
Miller Motorsports Park is located around 40kms from the centre of Salt Lake City in the state of Utah and not far away from the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats.
It is the newest, and safest, circuit in North America and was first opened in 2006. World Superbike is visiting the circuit for the fifth time and has firmly become established as the main event of the year at the 4,907m long circuit. The track features a 1,100m long pit-straight where the Superbike machines are expected to exceed the 320kmh (200mph) mark and to celebrate this the circuit has set up a ‘Quest for 200’ prize draw competition for the general public. With a circuit that has corner names such as; Scream, Wind-Up, Bad Attitude, Right-Hook and Dreamboat, the fans already have the makings of an exciting weekend before they even see a wheel roll!
The Miller Park event is also unique in being the only Monday race on the World Superbike calendar; it is taking place on Monday to coincide with the American holiday to celebrate ‘Memorial Day’. This means Hopkins, Camier and the rest of the field will take to the track for first practice on Saturday morning – local time – with the first race scheduled for 12.00hrs local time (19.00hrs BST) on Monday May 28th.
World Superbike: Fixi Crescent Suzuki back to full strength
Sykes has only been off the podium three times so far this season, has already scored a race win at Monza World Superbike and is 15.5 points ahead of the third place rider. Sykes has also been almost peerless in Superpole. He has won four of the five Superpole contests in 2012 so far and only narrowly missed out on another at Monza.
The rolling result of the hard work put in on track and behind the scenes by all in the Kawasaki Racing Team set-up has meant that irrespective of the type of circuit Sykes and his Ninja ZX-10R have encountered, good results have generally been secured on raceday and this has built up a large degree of combined confidence for the rest of the season.
Sykes’ previous World Superbike record at Miller, both as a Kawasaki rider and when riding for another manufacturer in his first World Superbike season, is something of a mixed bag. He has an MMP best of sixth in race one last year, but both Tom and his squad will be aiming to be in the front-running mix at the popular American circuit.
Once more riding in place of Tom’s injured 2012 team-mate Joan Lascorz, Frenchman Loris Baz will meet the American circuit near Salt Lake City for the first time this weekend, in only his second outing in the factory World Superbike team.
Baz, still only 19-years-old, finished inside the top ten at the previous Donington round and impressed all with his positive attitude and ability to pick up pace as the weekend went on. He was eighth in race two and is out to score more points at Miller.
The race at MMP takes place on Monday 28th May, not the more traditional Sunday of every other round, as the event is held over the American Memorial Day Holiday weekend. Track action starts on Saturday 26th, Superpole is on Sunday 27th and raceday – for the Superbike class only at this round – is on Monday 28th.
World Superbike: Sykes Out To Continue Rich Seam Of Form
Team Suzuki Press Release
FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s John Hopkins will return to the team for the next round of the World Superbike Championship at Miller Motorsports Park in America on May 28th after being forced to miss last weekend’s races through injury.
Hopkins suffered a broken bone in his right foot and damage to his left hip following a high-side at Monza in Italy earlier this month. It was initially hoped that he would be fit for the Donington Park round last weekend, but the hip injury restricted his movement too much and tests proved inconclusive.
On his return to California, Hopkins visited specialists to have further scans and to diagnose the severity of the injury. After an entire day of tests it was revealed that no significant long-term damage had occurred in the hip joint and he will be able to return to race action at Miller.
Hopkins will still need to undergo a series of painkilling injections to combat the discomfort in both his hip and his foot, but he is fully committed to racing and determined to get back on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R and do everything in his power to get a good result on home soil.
“I was so disappointed to miss Donington Park, where I’m sure I could have been in that crazy fight for the win! It’s been a really rough ride physically over recent times, and there were some real worries over the hip condition, but I know I have a lot more to give and that my luck has to change for the better. The team, my family and close friends have been really supportive and I just want to get back into what I know I can do best.
“I am fully committed to racing at Miller and I will be doing everything possible from now and up to the race weekend to ensure that I do whatever I can to get the best result possible for FIXI Crescent Suzuki, me and everyone involved. It won’t be easy, so I plan to take it step-by-step, enjoy the riding; and build back into it.”
John Hopkins returns at Miller Park World Superbike
Two third places on home soil for Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) put him within five points of the championship lead as his new rookie team-mate Loris Baz scored a strong eighth place in race two.
Starting from pole for the fourth time this year Sykes led both Donington races and finished within 1.609 seconds of the win in the first 23-lap contest of the day.
He was in combative and consistent form in race one but in race two he had no choice but to let his pursuers finally get past when he made a small error.
Tom looked set for a fifth place in the second race, after the second close and entertaining fight entered the last lap, but calamities for riders up front saw him promoted to third.
Despite finishing behind championship leader Max Biaggi in race two he is now only five slender points behind the Aprilia rider. Tom has now scored five podiums in the nine races so far, including his win last time out at Monza.
Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) made up places in both his starts from 18th on the grid, going 16th and just out of the points in race one, then taking a great eighth in a second race with only 15 finishers.
Kawasaki Team Pedercini rider Leandro Mercado had a double no score today, as did his Donington team-mate, Gary Mason.
Double Podium for Tom Sykes at 2012 Donington World Superbike
FIXI Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier produced his best ride of the season so far in today’s second race from the fifth round of the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park in England.
Camier was lucky to escape a first corner crash – that cost him some valuable time – and then got stuck behind Eugene Laverty, before passing the Irishman and chasing down the group in front. Camier caught and passed Sylvain Guintoli and looked to be heading for a comfortable, and impressive, sixth before drama on the last corner saw the BMWs of Leon Haslam and Marco Melandri collide.
This incident gave Camier the chance to take an unexpected, but ultimately well deserved fourth. His pace in the latter parts of the race matched the front-runners and, but for the avoiding action he had to take on the first corner, he could have been right amongst the battle for podium honours.
Camier made it a double of top-10 finishes today after bringing his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R home in a hard-fought ninth in the first race.
Peter Hickman made an impressive debut in the World Superbike Championship by racing his FIXI Crescent Suzuki to ninth place in race two.
He made a good start and was quickly up into a point-scoring position from 19th on the grid, before catching and overtaking more experienced riders on his way to 11th by lap 19. Hickman rode hard for the remainder of the race to preserve his place, before finally bringing his machine home in ninth after the last corner incident.
Hickman’s first race was cut short by a small electrical issue that forced him to pit early on, his crew were able to trace the trouble and get him back on track, but he was too many laps behind and finished the race as not classified; although he did collect some valuable data that will assist the team as it moves forward.
Today’s races were held in dry, sunny, but windy conditions, with track temperatures getting up to 18°C this afternoon. The first race of the day was won by Marco Melandri on a BMW, with Jonathan Rea on a Honda taking the spoils in race two. Italian Max Biaggi leads the Championship, with Tom Sykes second and Rea in third.
Leon Camier’s Season Best At Donington World Superbike