Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BSB Camier Crocked At Cadwell

The British Superbike Championship meeting at Cadwell Park resulted in wins for Leon Haslam and Johnny Rea, but was overshadowed by a terrifying crash for Leon Camier in the second race.
Cadwell isn't exactly over-endowed with runoff areas, so it's usually a place where the young nutters go well and the older guys try not to do anything too silly.

Race One
followed that pattern, with Johnny Rea leading off the line from Sykes, Haslam and Camier. Meanwhile, Greg Lavilla jumped the start and had 20 seconds added to his race time rather than a ride-through (which would probably be a ride through the car park at Cadwell).
Johnny Rea was looking good, but behind him Camier and Haslam were both on outstanding form, attacking the lap record as if it had spilled their pints. Haslam was especially quick in Park corner at the end of the back "straight", passing Sykes there and later taking the lead from Rea at the same place.
Park corner was where all the action was happening, as Karl Harris hopped off the bike there early on. He seemed OK, but apparently tweaked something and wasn't fit to start race 2.
Camier was on the move, and after dragging the lap record below 1 minute 27, he was right on Rea's tail. The Ulsterman was wide into the chicane and Camier tried to dive down the inside, but wasn't far enough alongside and collided with Rea's machine. Camier was now flying through the air at about 50mph. There are many things that one would like to land on at that kind of speed, such as a stack of feather mattresses or a group of personal injury lawyers, but most people would rather not land on the back of somebody else's Honda Fireblade. Johnny Rea's background is in motocross rather than the circus, so he fell off when Camier's lanky figure joined him on his bike.
Leon limped away while Rea restarted, but the HM Plant rider later pushed too hard and fell off again, this time leaving his bike jammed in an air fence.
Haslam rode a flawless race on the thundering Ducati to take the win. Ryuichi Kiyonari had a fairly quiet race until late on, when he mugged Tom Sykes for 2nd place. Sykes was still delighted at taking another podium, while his Stobart Honda team-mate Shakey Byrne finished 4th in front of Cal Crutchlow and Tommy Hill.

Race Two saw Johnny Rea make another of his great starts, followed by Kiyonari and Haslam, whose speed at Park Corner had deserted him. A lack of grip from the front turned Haslam's trademark pass into a calamity as he slid right out onto the kerb and lost a few places. Sykes was now up into 3rd.
It was around mid distance when Leon Camier's racing season ended with a sickening crash at The Mountain. This is an extremely unusual feature seen only at Cadwell Park, a crest so steep that Superbikes physically take off. Ace motocrosser Johnny Rea managed an immaculate jump and landing every single lap, but others weren't so lucky.
Camier took off over The Mountain like Evel Knievel, and unfortunately he also landed like the hapless Yank stuntman. The bike went sideways, then viciously highsided Camier over the top. As the ground drops away steeply, it was a long way to fall, and TV pictures left nothing to the imagination as Leon tumbled down the hill with a badly broken left leg. The safety car was deployed as medics took Camier to the medical centre, hopefully jacked up with enough morphine to knock out Pete Doherty. It was later revealed that Leon has a broken femur, fractured and dislocated knee and a fractured pelvis, but there were no complications and the outlook is very positive. His season is surely over, but while he recovers he can look back and know that this year he exploded onto the BSB scene and had a great result at the Suzuka 8 hour that must have impressed all the Japanese factories.
By now most viewers must have been holding their breath when the riders crossed the Mountain, but Shakey Byrne was still doing an extravagant stand-up wheelie in mid air each lap. He finally rode his luck too far and fell off, luckily coming off the lowside and ending up battered and winded but OK.
Leon Haslam's luck finally deserted him altogether on the last lap, running wide at Park corner for at least the 3rd time and falling off. The big V-twin Ducati engine was silent, and Haslam became the thousandth rider to find out that you really can't bump start those things.
Johnny Rea won the race, with Kiyo 2nd and Greg Lavilla 3rd. Cal Crutchlow finished a fine 4th. Tom Sykes was 5th, but he had also lost places after running off the track at Park. To be fair, he would have slowed down enough to make the corner but had forgotten to bring a parachute and a couple of boat anchors.

Kiyonari now leads the championship with a 41 point lead over Johnny Rea and a 75 point lead over Leon Haslam.

So, is Cadwell too dangerous? Should the Mountain be turned into the Molehill? Well, opinion seems to be divided. James Toseland doesn't like the place, having also left in an air ambulance with a broken femur, saying modern superbikes are simply too fast for a jump like the Mountain. 3-time BSB Champion Niall McKenzie hates the place after leaving in an ambulance countless times.
The Mountain is pretty dodgy, but then so is the rest of Cadwell. If BSB is only going to use circuits with international-class runoff areas, then the calendar will be reduced to just Silverstone and Donington. Maybe they should keep Cadwell as it is, but show the riders a slow-mo replay of Camier's crash just before they race. That should slow them down.

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