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Leon Camier, the leader in the chase for the ViSK British Superbike Championship in association with Pirelli, overcame the machine problems of free practice to power in his fifth pole start ahead of the seventh round of the country’s premier series at Mallory Park.
The Airwaves Yamaha rider was hard pressed to head off the determined challenges of Tommy Hill, the former World Superbike rider, who was making his seasonal debut into the series aboard the Worx Cresent Suzuki.
Hill had been the pace-setter through free practice and was making the most of his opportunity with the Suzuki team, upping the tempo, as he duelled with Camier across the Swan Combi 50 Roll for Pole session, only to miss out on starting his one hundredth BSB race by 0.179secs.
Camier, who had completed only a handful of laps in free practice, due to machine problems, rewarded the hard working efforts of his team when it mattered most, going top of the qualifying leaderboard with a lap of the 1.41mile Leicestershire circuit in 56.016secs.
“We’ve had a bad time, and not done that many laps till the grid decider which was the first full session we’ve done on the race bike,” explained Camier. “We are strong and up there, and after two years of horrendous results here, hopefully things are looking better now that I have pole.”
Chris Walker ran third fastest with a lap of 56.221secs aboard the Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha, to be just ahead of the surprise package of the weekend, Mirror.co.uk Cup rider Richard Cooper on the Co-ordit Yamaha.
Cooper, enjoying his one-off appearance into the series, had embarrassed his factory riding rivals throughout, and his lap of 56.345secs secured for him a front row start, and he reflected: “That’s not bad for someone riding a three year old bike!”
John Laverty headed up the second row of the grid on the Buildbase Kawasaki, running a tenth up on the similar machine, but running in MSS Colchester colours, of Simon Andrews. James Ellison, who trailing his team-mate Camier by 78 points in the title stakes, ran seventh fastest, marginally up on Hydrex Honda rider Karl Harris.
Grame Gowland, on the second Motorpoint Henderson bike, ran with a best time of 56.642secs, matched by Stuart Easton, the Hydrex Honda rider who is third in the overall rankings. Michael Rutter, making his debut with the SMT Honda equipe in place of Jason O’Halloran and MSS Colchester Kawasaki rider Julien da Costa completed the third row.
Adrift of them came Buildbase Kawasaki’s Tristan Palmer, David Johnson on the Team Maxxis Yamaha, Atsushi Watanabe – Relentless Suzuki, and the leader of the Mirror.co.uk Cup, Gary Mason aboard the Quay Garage Honda.
Josh Brookes, the pole-starter in the previous round had a difficult grid deciding session, starting his HM Plant Honda from the fifth row, in company with Ian Lowry and Cup riders Peter Hickman and Tommy Bridewell.
Tom Tunstall, Kenny Gilbertson, Steve Brogan deputising for the injured Glen Richards and Martin Jessopp lined up behind them with local rider Aaron Zanotti and Michael Howarth, riding the STP-JHS MV Agusta for the first time, at the back of the pack.
Top ten qualifying times:
L Camier, Airwaves Yamaha, 56.016secs
T Hill, Worx Crescent Suzuki, 56.195s
C Walker, Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha, 56.221s
R Cooper, Co-ordit Yamaha, 56.345s
J Laverty, Buildbase Kawasaki, 56.379s
S Andrews, MSS Colchester Kawasaki, 56.489s
J Ellison, Airwaves Yamaha, 56.547s
K Harris, Hydrex Honda, 56.605s
G Gowland, Motorpoint Henderson Yamaha, 56.642s
S Easton, Hydrex Honda, 56.642s