World Superbike rookie Leon Camier has played down concerns he may be forced to play second fiddle to Aprilia Alitalia team-mate Max Biaggi this season, claiming he has received very fair treatment since joining the Italian operation over the winter.
While Biaggi is tipped to launch a title challenge in 2010 following his run to fourth in the standings last season, Camier has already stated that he intends to use his maiden year to learn the circuits and maintain progress.
Even so, Camier ran Biaggi close during the opening round in Australia, and although errors in each race would consign him to a pair of 11th place finishes, the reigning British Superbike champion was buoyed to be pushing his team-mate almost straight away.
“I was little bit surprised [to be as fast as Max],” he told Crash.net
. “Over the weekend I was struggling in the last sector, where I was losing almost half a second to him. We figured it out as the weekend wore on and then by the race we were pretty even over a whole lap.
“Considering Max has had a year on the bike, knows the tracks and knows the secrets of how to go faster, the fact we were as quick as him is really positive for me. I just have to keep working away and push him even more.”
While the decision to join Aprilia initially raised concerns he wouldn't receive equal treatment compared to Biaggi, Camier maintains the team isn't simply rallying around its 'number one' rider at the expense of his own development.
“I know Max has developed things I haven't tried, but it isn't a big problem,” he added. “In the races I did last year, Max had a different kit based on what he'd developed through the year, but in testing, I tried one of Max's swingarms, which was supposed to be better – and it was, so I got one as well.
“So they are really fair, which is mega. Max is obviously their number one push for the title, but they aren't hindering me or taking parts away from me. They have been really fair and that's all I ask.”
Responding to Biaggi's comment that he considers Camier to be his 'wingman' this season, the 23-year-old's subsequent positive start has given him the impetus to try and beat Biaggi. Even so, Camier maintains it is within his interests to find the balance between riding for himself and for the team as a whole.
“I didn't even notice [the comment] at the time, although it doesn't make any difference to me. He is pushing to win the championship, and if he needs my help and I'm in a position to do so, then I would help him – not a problem.
“It's still not going to stop me from wanting to beat him though. I will push hard to beat him, but I will also be careful to not knock him off as well – it's not in my interest to do that!”
Camier's two 11th place finishes at Phillip Island currently leave him ninth in the overall standings.