With the Airwaves Yamaha team facing a race against time to get their bikes ready for this weekend's British Superbike Championship curtain raiser, rider Leon Camier has played down his 2009 title hopes.
Based on last year's results, Camier is the highest-placed rider to remain in the BSB, but a delay in getting parts is preventing him and team-mate James Ellison from even testing the new Yamaha R1 before the opening round at Brands Hatch.
Indeed, with the first official practice session of the year just four days away, Camier is well aware that GSE Racing, who prepare the Airwaves-backed machine, will be on the back foot, but is retaining faith that the multiple BSB champions will soon be up to speed.
“Looking at how the Yamaha is getting on in World Superbikes is mega,” he told Crash.net Radio
. “Ben Spies is doing an awesome job and Tom is getting faster and faster as well. We just need to get out and do a bit of riding.”
“We have had a problem getting some parts through. As soon as the bike is built we'll be at the first race, so there isn't going to be any testing before the weekend. I am hoping that the bike will be quick straight out of the box, so the second we jump on it we should be relatively competitive.
“We might not be at the front straight away - it is going to take time to develop it - but fingers crossed it'll be good enough to start the season on.”
Although GSE's switch to Yamaha is just one of a number of new factors expected to make this year's BSB one of the closest in some years, Camier speculates that, for him personally, he would have liked GSE to have remained as the factory Ducati outlet in 2009.
However, while he admits the switch affects the consistency he built up on the 1098 in 2008, Camier agrees that the new R1, which has shown impressive speed on the World Superbike stage already this year, is the way to go in the long-term.
“I would agree if GSE had stayed with Ducati, but because of the change to Yamaha, it has changed the situation,” he said when asked about his title favourite status. “There is no consistency in what has happened for me. If we had stayed with Ducati, we would have all the settings and I'd know how to ride it, but this year it is going to be totally different.
“We need to develop the bike, we have new parts coming all the time but there is nothing to go on. I don't see myself as favourite at all, because I think it is pretty evenly matched out there. However, with GSE's experience, I am confident they will pull it out the bag when the time comes.
“The new R1 is pretty special. So towards the middle of the year we understand a bit more about it and we should see the potential of it. It will get better and better. Then again, the bike might be strong from the start, but until we ride it we don't know.”