When a rider changes team they also face the same question; will I sink or swim? First impressions from riding the Honda are that Camier will be swimming
Leon Camier was the central pin of the 2018 rider market in WorldSBK. The former British champion was sought after having proven his worth as a development rider in turning around the fortunes of MV Agusta. He faces a similar task for next year having joined the unfancied and under performing Honda squad.
First impressions for Camier have left the Englishman confident of a season where he can once again perform above expectations. After three days of winter testing at Jerez Camier enthused his excitement for the year ahead and the possibilities of a bright future for Honda.
“I'm very excited after the test because I wasn't expecting us to be this quick at the first test,” said Camier. “To be straight into the battle with Fores and Van der Mark is very positive for us. We need to make the right changes going forward and put us in the right direction for development for the winter so that we're ready at the next test to keep progressing.
“We managed to get to a decent performance quite quickly on race tires this week, and on Friday it was about trying to understand how the bike reacts to different changes. This bike reacts very differently to what I've been used to in the past. There are certain things that I'd like to work on and I know from other bikes that it could be a solution, but with this bike I don't think it will work. That's strange for me because I can't really suggest what direction we should go in. It's lucky though because the guys in the team understand what this bike needs and the ranges in which it can operate. I need to learn that.”
One area that is expected to yield a significant jump in performance is changing from Cosworth electronics to a Magneti Marelli unit. Camier commented that while it would be possible to reach the same level with Cosworth, it would take a lot more resources compared to the more commonly used Marelli electronics. Being able to know what to expect from the bike was clearly the key for the 31 year old.
“I think changing electronics could give us more precision. I think that we could get there with the Cosworth electronics, but with Marelli it's already known what you can do with them so it's easier to understand. It's about the small details when you're riding, because with the Marelli electronics I know when the bike is starting to wheelie on corner exit that there are a number of different ways to control it. I can be more precise with those electronics because I understand them already.
“From this test it's difficult to know if what I'm feeling from the throttle is because of the electronics or if it's the character of the engine. I would hope that with the change of electronics I can offer us a direction on the setting and I can be more specific with the areas I want to change. At the minute we're at the limit of what we can do for the throttle feel. I've got a nice feeling with the throttle though and I've been able to start using it for turning the bike on the gas.”
Having set his fastest ever laps at the Spanish tracks Camier was certainly surprised by the immediate potential of the Fireblade. Eking out more performance will be the challenge of the winter and for Camier understanding the bike and how it works is the next step.
“Over the winter I'd like to have some changes to the character of the engine and that'll be a focus for us. When we get back to testing I will be concentrating on race distance and understanding what I need to do to get the best out of the bike. This week we've been working on some chassis settings and the balance of the bike to understand what the feeling is with each change. I need to learn how the bike reacts so that I can give better feedback to the team about the change.”
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