Read the full exclusive interview with Leon Camier here

Leon Camier has full faith his Red Bull Honda package can fight back to the front of the World Superbike field after a painful couple of years and relishes his leading role in its charge.

After joining the Ten Kate Racing-run squad from MV Agusta at the end of last year, Camier instantly injected fresh optimism and confidence into the team during the opening winter test at Jerez in November following a torrid 2017 for the team which had promised so much.

After securing lucrative Red Bull backing alongside the launch of the new Honda Firebalde CBR1000RR SP2 the team shaped up a heavyweight line-up of Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl.

While results in the opening rounds were below par, tragedy struck when Hayden died due to injuries suffered in a cycling accident. It landed a monumental blow on the team’s spirit and direction. The season then got tougher for the team as wrist injuries plagued Bradl’s campaign, struggling with the burden as de facto team leader after Hayden’s passing, as the team saw out 2017 rotating between stand-in riders.

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2018 triggered a complete shake-up inside the squad with Kervin Bos stepping in as team manager while Chris Pike replaced Marco Chini as Honda Racing Europe’s Operations Manager.

Changes also applied to its rider line-up with Jake Gagne handed a full-time ride by Honda after impressing in MotoAmerica and his trio outings for the squad in 2017, while the team secured a balance of youth and experience in the shape of Camier.

Despite luck not always smiling down on Honda again this year, after Camier missed the start of the European stretch of the year due to broken ribs when he was accidently hit by the MV Augsta of Jordi Torres in a crash at Aragon, a resurgence is building.

Every race in which Camier has reached the chequered flag for Red Bull Honda he’s finished inside the top 10, even with great pain from his ribs, while fourth place in race one in Thailand marked the team’s best result with the new Fireblade.

It’s results and pace gives Camier confidence that with a clean bill of health and an undisrupted programme the team can enjoy leaps forward rather than two steps forward, one step back.

“The potential is really good with the bike and the team. It is absolutely awesome and I’m really enjoying being in this set up,” Camier told Crash.net. “We just need a bit of rhythm now with no injuries, good tests and good races to get things flowing.

“It’s good for me that I can steer the direction of things that I want but it is still a team effort. Jake is pushing things from the electronics that he wants and we still work together on everything but it is good to be steering the situation.”

While Honda’s progress has been somewhat aided by World Superbike’s regulations attempting to peg back the likes of Kawasaki and Ducati, through adjusted maximum rev limiters, Camier is clear there’s a lot still to be gained from his bike.

The team made the long-awaited switch from Cosworth to Magneti Marelli electronics on its return to Europe from the opening flyaway rounds and Camier is hopeful of notching up the laps to load up data to dissect where continual developments can be found.

But could the team make the jump to catch the current domination of Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki? Camier isn’t so certain, yet, and feels to make the all-important final steps later down the development path the team would benefit with added backing from Japan and HRC, while the Honda World Superbike programme remains solely in the hands of Honda Europe.

“It would make things a lot easier from every aspect if HRC are involved but I don’t know if that will change in the future,” he said. “It would only be a benefit if they were involved, why wouldn’t it be?

“They’ve got all of the MotoGP information and they’ve put in a lot of effort for the Suzuka 8 Hours this year so I think it would only be a good thing if there was more of a correlation between the two.”

Camier and Red Bull Honda return to World Superbike action this weekend (June 22-24) for the United States round at Laguna Seca.

Read the full exclusive interview with Leon Camier here

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