Leon Camier says it was with a heavy heart he has opted to sit out the remainder of the Imola round for Red Bull Honda after it became clear attempting a race distance “just wasn’t possible”.

Despite being cleared to contest the full Imola race weekend by the World Superbike medical team having passed a fitness test after FP1, Camier was forced to withdraw from the weekend due to the pain from suffering three broken ribs in a crash at Aragon last month.

Camier says eight laps into a race simulation during FP2 at the Italian track the pain became too strong and knew he had to stop. The British rider has been replaced by Honda regular in the Bennetts British Superbike championship Jason O’Halloran who is making his World Superbike debut.

“I was looking forward to riding today to see how I would feel on the bike as my recovery has gone quite well to this point,” Camier said. “In the first session I was cautious to start with and although I was still in a lot of pain, I was still able to find a way to set a decent lap time although it was clear that I was still feeling the effects of my injury.

“However, I thought I'd give it another go in Free Practice 2 with the purpose of seeing how I went over a longer run and it quickly become apparent after doing eight laps in a row that completing a race distance here at Imola this weekend just wasn't possible.

“It was a tough decision to withdraw from the weekend but definitely the right one to make and I'll now focus on trying to be ready for my home race at Donington in a couple of weeks time.”

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O’Halloran took over for Camier from the final 40-minute free practice session on a bike still set-up for the British rider at a circuit he’d never competed at before on his championship debut. Despite the daunting task, the Australian rider – who secured a rostrum results last weekend at Oulton Park in BSB, is pleased with the initial progress.

“It was definitely a challenging way to enter a world championship weekend starting off in Free Practice 3 at a circuit I've never ridden a Superbike at and with a new team, but thankfully the team has been great and my initial feeling with the WorldSBK-spec Fireblade was really good,” O’Halloran said.

“We stuck to using the one set of tyres for the whole session and didn't make any setting changes - the bike was still set up for Leon - just so I could get used to everything, but I was able to steadily improve throughout the session and set my fastest lap on my very last lap.

“I can now sleep on what I learned today and tomorrow we can set the bike up more for me, so I'm confident we'll be able to improve things tomorrow. My goal is just to keep progressing every time I get out on the bike.”

O'Halloran ended FP3 20th with a best lap of 1m 50.259s - finishing the day 21st overall - and becomes the second regular BSB rider competing at Imola this weekend with Leon Haslam on a wildcard entry with Puccetti Kawasaki.



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