FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Jules Cluzel continued to impress at this weekend's Russian round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at the Moscow Raceway by putting in a competitive performance in this afternoon's Superpole.
Cluzel made his way into Superpole due to his time in Friday's first session after this morning's wet qualifying practice, where no riders improved on their times. The French Rookie made his way through Superpole 1 and 2 and began the third and final session with his last Pirelli qualifying tyre. He set a time of 1'35.256, which saw him in a provisional front-row position for a short while, before his time was marginally bettered by other riders. At the end of the 10-minute session Cluzel was only three-tenths-of-a-second away from the front row and just over half-of-a-second off Pole Position. He will head the third row for tomorrow's races after finishing seventh quickest.
Cluzel had a good day all round, and after a third-place in this morning's wet qualifying; he followed that up with another third position in the dry free practice. He is confident with the set-up for his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000, whatever the conditions are on race-day, and will be looking to push for a strong result in both races.
Leon Camier will start directly behind his team-mate in tomorrow's races after the Englishman qualified in 10th place. He looked like getting a good grid position after recording the second fastest time in Superpole 1, but he was unable to use his qualifying tyre to its best effect and was eliminated in the second session. Camier had looked on-the-pace earlier in the day when he set the second fastest time in the dry free practice and his time in the first Superpole underlined that performance. He will be hoping to make a fast start in tomorrow's races so that he can be up amongst the front pack as soon as possible.
Today's practices and Superpole were held in varying conditions, but the rain that threatened this afternoon never materialised. Davide Giugliano on a factory Aprilia took his maiden World Superbike Pole Position; championship leader Tom Sykes will start from ninth on the grid after he crashed in Superpole 3.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki's Cluzel and Camier will line up with the rest of the field for the first of two races from the 3,931m Moscow raceway at 12.00hrs local time (09.00hrs BST), with the second 25-lap event scheduled for 15.30hrs local time (12.30hrs BST).
"It felt really good out there today, I was consistent and solid and I am very happy about this because we need to keep improving at the moment. In the rain we are really good and in the dry we have improved again. For tomorrow we are feeling positive no matter what the conditions are, because we have a good setting for both. I hope to make two good races tomorrow because this would give us a good conclusion to the weekend. I will try to do my best and see what we can achieve."
"I was feeling good on the bike in Superpole 1 and was a bit behind Eugene - I was trying to use him as a tow - and the bike was handling really well. When I was behind Eugene I felt really comfortable and it was as though he was holding me up, but on the back-straight I couldn't quite stay with him. I then came in and got a qualifying tyre and did a pretty good time to get through to Superpole 2. In the next session I was trying hard on my second lap on a race tyre, but Melandri was on my racing line and got in my way. So I came in and put on another qualifier, but I was so angry with him for messing up my lap that I think I tried too hard with the qualifier and didn't get the best out of it. I had a bit of chattering, but I was the main reason I didn't go quicker. I am reasonable happy with the race setting, but around here it is difficult to overtake, so if it is a dry race it will be tough coming from so far back. I will just need to keep the pace and my rhythm up and try to be strong at the end."
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
"The FIXI Crescent Suzuki team has done a very good job over the last two days in the changeable conditions at the Moscow Raceway and in a strange way it's very positive to be disappointed with Jules's qualifying position of seventh - and only half-of-a-second off Pole Position. However, when you miss the front-row by three-tenths - and we know that one mistake on his best lap cost him that - then we know that the potential was much more. This has been Jules's best run-in to a World Superbike event so far and wet or dry, he knows he's got a good package underneath him and is looking forward to the races.
"Leon also has shown excellent and consistent speed. He was second in the dry free practice this afternoon and unfortunately just didn't get the job done in Superpole 2 when he needed to. He's disappointed, but with more changeable conditions on the way for tomorrow, the starting position might not be as critical as it might have been.
"The FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 is working very well here this weekend and we are looking forward to two hard, but competitive, races tomorrow."
Moscow - eni FIM Superbike World Championship - Superpole: 1. Davide Giugliano (Aprilia) 1'34.676: 2. Chaz Davies (BMW) +0.157: 3. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia) +0.258: 4. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.382: 5. Marco Melandri (BMW) 0.439. 7. Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +0.580. 10. Leon Camier (FIXI Crescent Suzuki) +1.085.