21 December 2012
WSBK Rider of the Year vote: 10th
You voted in your thousands, but there can only be one winner... This is Crash.net's top ten countdown to the 2012 World Superbike Rider of the Year as voted for by you!
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2012:
10. Leon Camier
Team: FIXI Crescent Racing
Bike: Suzuki GSX-R1000
Championship points: 115.5
Championship position: 14th
In 2011, Leon Camier finished his sophomore season of World Superbike racing in seventh position overall, yet in our end of season poll you only ranked him in 12th place. In 2012, he would finish 14th overall, yet this year you have ranked him back into the top ten.
An interesting turnaround perhaps, but one that shows you have recognised Camier's efforts to transform the little fancied FIXI Crescent Suzuki into a regular front runner, an endeavour that appeared to be reaping dividends towards the end of the year.
Though his two years at Aprilia didn't yield any wins, it would have been a travesty if Camier hadn't landed elsewhere for 2012, so his deal with FIXI Crescent Racing, itself graduating from the British national series, was met with approval.
Even so, the move did raise some questions. On the plus side, Camier had found a more welcome home with some familiar faces, but many felt the Suzuki GSX-R1000 had seen better days and John Hopkins's presence as a highly-rated team-mate threatened to overshadow him again.
Behind the scenes, the decision to enlist Yoshimura for engine development seemed a positive move to bring an ageing bike up to date, but the fact the Suzuki seemed notably slow through the speed traps made it look like an erroneous move. Indeed, the GSX-R1000 may have been getting old, but it was never considered slow in a straight line before.
To his credit, Camier never once complained about the bike, even going as far to suggest it was trouble mating the engine with the electronics that was causing the issues, rather than the engine itself. He even boldly proclaimed to have the best handling bike on the grid.
Even if it was, Camier didn't often help his cause with some frustratingly poor qualifying performances, a scatter-graph of results that had him as high as the front row at Silverstone, yet outside the top sixteen on more than one occasion.
When Camier did qualify well he showed himself to be an adept racer, finishing fourth at Donington Park (the sole highlight from a disappointing first half of the season), while he should have had a podium at Silverstone when he slipped off in tricky conditions whilst battling for a win.
Ironically, Camier's best results of the season actually came from lowly positions, his run to fifth from the pit lane during the first Nurburgring race being followed by a confident ride up the order to third in the second.
Though it was the sole podium for both rider and manufacturer all season, it was a reminder of Camier's skill come race day, while Hopkins's injury-ridden year allowed the Briton the chance to grasp team leader status with aplomb.
So while Camier didn't get into the top ten overall in 2012 – he wasn't ever that close either -, there are glimmers that 2013 could be a wholly different story.
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2011: 12th
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2010: 10th
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2009: N/A
Top 10 WSBK Rider of the Year 2008: N/A
Do you agree the poll results? If not, why not? Leave your comments below...
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