Having joined Red Bull Honda as its lead rider after its torrid 2017, Leon Camier explains the state of play at the team and the development road ahead.

 

Hello Leon, how are things and how’s the body?

Leon Camier: Getting better slowly, to be honest it is a very different injury to what I’ve had before as I’ve not done ribs properly. It is much slower and boring than I thought. After the first few days or week I felt massive progress so I thought I’d be over this instantly and what was everyone talking about ribs being so bad and one of the most painful injuries. I’m thinking that is stupid and it going to a point where my breathing got better with my lungs and the ribs would work a lot better but then the pain stayed there and when you train or try to the next two or three days you are buckled up. It is the weirdest injury I’ve had.

 

You can never pick a good time to be injured but given the timing right at the start of the European season what was the overriding emotion?

LC: It’s a good question that because it was the worst possible time for us. We did a test at Assen and it was the first time we used the new Magneti Marelli electronics and that test went really well while the bike wasn’t at its best. I was really pissed off to miss that race and I think Donington also would be a good track for  us as it’s been good us in the past. I’m disappointed to have missed tracks that were potentially rally good for us and the bike. We started so well and then lost all momentum as soon as I got injured. Since I’ve been trying to get back to full fitness we still haven’t run the bike properly with the electronics so we are missing out on all this time to develop it plus experience for me with different settings to keep improving the bike.

 

When you left Thailand you said you were disappointed with results despite being fourth and sixth, so the signs of progress were there.

LC: 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. We just need a bit of rhythm now with no injuries, good tests and good races to get things flowing.

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How have you found the team spirit since arriving as it has been a tough year or two for the team?

LC: It was really good initially as everyone made me feel at home and welcome. They pushed so hard to make everything that I wanted available and doable. I’ve really enjoyed being in the team which has made the transition really easy. The lap time also came pretty good almost immediately which also makes everyone happy. I feel bad for the team though as they’ve put so much effort into it but the results haven’t been there due to injuries and I’ve not been racing. It is difficult for them and they have had a couple of difficult years so it’d be nice to get some results to show the potential of what we can do.

 

When you arrived did you have to lift the team at all?

LC: Not massively, I think as soon as the first test went well there was instantly a good feeling in the team. They saw some potential to get some good result again and it has lifted their spirits quite quickly.

 

A lot has been placed on you as a team leader here, do you relish that role?

LC: 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.

 

Do the targets still remain the same this year compared to at the start of the year?

LC: We have to play it by ear with the injury firstly but I still want to be looking to put in on the podium where possible. The championship is obviously not so good and not an achievable thing to do but we have to take it race by race.

 

Long term, is this something set at Red Bull Honda and you want to build on it?

LC: Yes, I think it has all the potential that we want to try to put in a good push at the championship and win races. I think it has the potential to do that but we just need a bit of luck.

 

Honda being such a massive brand in motorsport, does that add extra pressure?

LC: No because there is no big support from Honda Japan, it is not a HRC situation, so it is different. Obviously Honda Europe put in a lot of effort, support and good technicians and staff here so we are our own thing. We can still do a good job.

So working within the team, do they feel under pressure at all?

LC: Not massively, it is more about pushing to try to get as much information as possible whether that is from the Japanese or we figure it out for ourselves here. I wouldn’t say anyone is under any more pressure. Everyone is doing their best and we are still in with a chance for podiums and hopefully more at some point. I think it is more that the factories like Kawasaki and Ducati involved, and Yamaha as well, have all put in a lot more factory effort. For us to be challenging them is good and I think we genuinely can so it is not a pressure thing, it is the opposite really as we are the underdogs trying to beat them so it is cool in that respect.

 

Do you think it will get to a point where results increase and improve but to find that extra step you need to ask for more from Honda?

LC: Yes as 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. 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.

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