After all the talk in the winter about a resurgent Red Bull Honda effort in WorldSBK, a crash in Superpole for Leon Camier, and Jake Gagne just missing out on SP2 qualification, was not an ideal start to raceday one of a new season.
Camier did, however, have top five race pace and better at times, but found himself held up by an old/new rival, as the tall Englishman explained.
“I was in the wrong position in a few places at the beginning. I made a really good start but in the first corner I got a little bit caught up and in turn four, really badly. Baz came in crazy hot and pushed everyone wide and by then I was in a bad position. Then it was just trying to fight through,” Camier told BSN at the track.
Camier, who crashed in Superpole because there was a problem, was 11th on the grid and in the race itself was clearly irritated by his new rival’s approach. “I had a good step more pace than Baz - but struggling to get past him was the problem. I passed him so many times but he was strong, really strong on the brakes, so I could not make it stick.
“I must have passed him five or six times - and he has done this before. He does not really use his head when it comes to a difficult race like here, Instead of thinking to fall into line and try to keep the pace to try to keep with the guys in front. He loses the lap time because of it. It is stupid of him but he has done it to me before. I will talk to him about it, to try to see if I can get him to be just a little bit sensible. Keep the pace the same as the others.”
Camier’s pace in the middle of the race was as good as most riders at the front, which is a case of what could have been for him now. “By the time I got past him my pace was not too bad in the middle of the race, not as good as I wanted then in the last few laps we were really struggling with tyre life. The edge of the tyre… looks OK, it is not blistered or anything… but completely destroyed and zero grip.”
If race two was another 22 lap affair with no stop for a new rear tyre, Camier feels he would have been competitive to a greater degree than in race one. He still could but it will be a very different race. “We had the pace for top five today and that was frustrating. I think if I can get away with them then I think we can still improve the bike a little bit chassis-wise for the race, then it is down to me to work my race out from there. Seventh was OK today but it is not what I want. We definitely did not have the pace for the podium but I think we were stronger than the Yamahas, we had the possibility to beat them. But to be in the race with Fores and Chaz is possible.”
Camier beat one Yamaha rider (Van der Mark) but not the other (Alex Lowes), but he has already shown that even if there is still a part of a second to find, the red Bull Honda effort should play a greater part up front than it did in a horribly troubled 2017.