WSBK » Leon Camier


Leon Camier

Career

Though unable to make the Aprilia RSV-4 his own during his two rollercoaster years with the championship-winning team, record-breaking 2009 BSB champion Leon Camier will enter into his fourth WSBK season in 2013 with hopes of building on a respectable campaign with Suzuki.

It has been a steady ascension to the forefront of international Superbike racing for Camier, the ‘Shafter’ beginning his endeavour in the British 125GP Championship, of which he was classified as champion in 2001, ahead of a certain Casey Stoner.

Staying in the series for 2003, though Camier was unable to replicate his title win as he settled for third, it was still enough to earn him a full-time ride in the 125GP World Championship for 2004 with the Metasystem Honda outfit.

However, it would prove to be a disastrous season for Camier as he failed to bother the top fifteen on any occasion, prompting him to return to the domestic scene for 2005 in the British Supersport Championship.

Joining Padgetts Honda, Camier fared well on 600cc machinery and soon established himself as a front runner, claiming three podiums on the way to sixth position in the final standings.

Re-signing with Padgetts for another season, Camier sprints to his second domestic title, claiming four victories and seven podiums to edge out Craig Jones and Stuart Easton for the coveted crown.

With no Superbike seats available to him, Camier would attempt to defend his title with Northpoint Honda in 2006, but he fails to top the podium once over the course of the season, leaving down in fourth position behind Cal Crutchlow, Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty.

Despite this, Camier goes ahead and secures a long-awaited deal to race in the British Superbike Championship for 2007, joining the privateer Bike Animal outfit. Adapting to the 1000cc Honda, Camier stuns the paddock by claiming podiums in the opening three races, before levelling out with a series of strong top six finishes over the course of the year.

However, Camier’s marvellous season ends abruptly with three rounds remaining at Cadwell Park when a fall at the infamous ‘Mountain’ leaves him with a horrific leg injury. Even so, he is still able to claim eighth in the standings, as well as successfully recover from the injury over the winter period.

Indeed, despite the inauspicious conclusion to his year, Camier had done enough to impress Colin Wright’s ultra-successful GSE Racing team, switching to a Ducati twin for the 2008 season alongside former champion Shane Byrne.

Riding the all-new – and controversial – 1098, Camier became was a frequent contender amidst accomplished competition, breaking his victory duck at Snetterton. Though overshadowed by runaway champion Byrne and hampered by a mid-season injury, Camier ended the season well with further successes at Croft and Silverstone, lifting him to fifth in the final standings.

With the top four venturing to pastures new in 2009, Camier opted to stay with GSE Racing to begin the season as the title favourite. Even so, a move from Ducati to Yamaha – which led to major delays and no pre-season testing – raised initial doubts as to whether he could live up to his lofty billing.

A victory during the opening round allayed such concerns and Camier proceeded to crush the opposition with a series of devastating performances.

Smashing Niall McKenzie’s record of wins in a season (which stood at 14), Camier triumphed in all but seven races in 2009 – 19 victories in total – to leave the opposition standing. Such was his dominance, BSB officials would enforce a change of the points’ system for 2010 onwards to prevent such a walkover happening again.

Not that this was of concern to Camier, who was confirmed as World Superbike bound for 2010 with Aprilia Racing. Having already made his debut with the team during two late-season 2009 outings in place of Shinya Nakano, hopes were high that Camier could prove a swift team-mate to Max Biaggi.

Taking time to adapt his 6”3’ frame to the compact Aprilia RSV-4, Camier was nonetheless on the podium by round four at Assen, results he’d repeat at Miller Motorsports Park and again on home soil at Silverstone. Crucially, however, costly crashes at Valencia and during race two at Assen arguably cost him shots at wins, while a nasty fall at the Nurburgring would leave him with an injured wrist and out of the final three events.

Ending his rookie season a respectable 12th, Camier was nonetheless re-signed by Aprilia for 2011, the Briton charged with battling for race wins.

A bout of glandular fever on the eve of the 2011 season threated to derail those hopes early on, but Camier impressed many by overcoming the potentially lengthy illness by scoring a podium in round two at Donington Park.

However, much like 2010, Camier was prone to mistakes, notably his fall from second at Monza, while his qualifying form fluctuated. At his best, Camier was a pace setter, as represented by excellent performances at Miller, Aragon and Imola, but errors held him back from better.

In the end, seventh overall was a fine improvement on paper, but there were no wins and with rumblings that he wasn’t getting equal treatment alongside Biaggi, Camier confirmed the relationship with Aprilia wouldn’t go beyond 2011.

Despite this, Camier was quickly snapped up to front FIXI Crescent Racing’s foray into World Superbike racing, the British team entering a pair of Suzukis for himself and John Hopkins.

Riding the fairly dated GSXR-1000, Camier struggled to make an impression during the early stages of the season, a fine run to fourth at Donington Park the only highlight amongst a series of other less remarkable results.

Nonetheless, Camier’s fortunes improved during the second-half of the season, culminating in a return to the podium at the Nurburgring, while he ended the year having seen off a talented (albeit injured) team-mate in Hopkins.

His performance was enough to earn a stay of execution at FIXI Crescent Suzuki for a second season, where he will be looking to build on the promise shown towards the end of 2012.

Career Highlights:

2012: Re-signs with FIXI Crescent Suzuki for another season

2012: World Superbike Championship, FIXI Crescent Suzuki, 14th

2011: World Superbike Championship, Aprilia Alitalia, 7th

2010: World Superbike Championship, Aprilia Alitalia, 12th

2009: British Superbike Championship, Airwaves Yamaha, Champion (19 wins)

World Superbike Championship (6 races), Airwaves Yamaha/Aprilia Racing, 20th

2008: British Superbike Championship, Airwaves Ducati, 5th (3 wins)

2007: British Superbike Championship, Bike Animal Honda, 8th

2006: British Supersport Championship, Northpoint Honda, 4th

2005: British Supersport Championship, Padgetts Honda, Champion (4 wins)

2004: British Supersport Championship, Padgetts Honda, 6th

2003: 125cc World Championship, Metasystem Honda, N/C

2002: 125cc British Championship, 3rd

125cc World Championship (3 races), Italjet Racing, N/C

2001: 125cc British Championship, Champion

2000: 125cc British Championship, 12th

1999: Aprilia 125cc Challenge, 3rd

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