Leon Camier Interview - On MV Agusta, Development, Reliability, And 2018

It has been over four years since Leon Camier last stood on the WorldSBK podium, but since Silverstone 2013 the Englishman has been able to do something remarkable; rebuild his reputation without having the silverware to show for it.

Having raced for Aprilia and Suzuki following his 2009 British Superbike title success, Camier was left high and dry for 2014 and had to take on the role of super sub for the season. It must have been a humbling experience for Camier but it has certainly made him a stronger and more rounded racer and since joining MV Augusta in 2015 he been the focal point of their WorldSBK program.

"The bike has evolved from when I first rode it," said Camier. "It was not a very good race bike at the start, and now it is really quite competitive. A lot of that is down to the technicians that we have and obviously from my feedback and being able to tell the team exactly what I want from a bike. I have to understand how the bike works, how the team works and how exact I have to be with my feedback. It's not enough to say, 'I need a smoother throttle.' I have to be in depth about what's going on and the knock-on effect that any change can have on other parts of the bike too."

Progress on a budget

"When you're developing a bike you need to look at everything, because we're not testing regularly because of budget issues. That means that any time we can spend developing the bike has to be really focused. I think that it's really impressive what we've been able to achieve given the resources. One of the biggest reasons for how we've been able to move things forward is that we have the right people and they're all motivated to make the progress. We are working in the right direction, and considering the budget that we have, we've been able to make some really good progress."

"We've made a massive step in absolutely every area since I first rode the MV in 2014. I think the biggest change that we have made since then is probably with the chassis and the weight distribution. At the time, all of the weight was really high and at the front of the bike. The bike was so soft that you couldn't feel what the tires were doing. Since then we've been able to stiffen it up in all areas, and compared to 2014, you wouldn't believe how different it is. Now the chassis is the strong point of the bike."

The price of reliability

The rider has also been noted as a real trump card for the team. Camier has seen his reputation go from strength to strength in the last two seasons as he developed the MV into a genuine front-running bike. For the 31-year-old Englishman the goal is to win races again, but reliability issues have consistently dogged his season and until those problems are solved it is hard to see MV being able to take the fight to the leading bikes on a weekly basis.

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German website Speedweek is already reporting Camier has signed for Honda and it just has to be announced officially. I really hope they are wrong, I don't like to see Camier going to Honda at all. The new Fireblade has been a disaster this year, especially in the world championship, with problems ranging from a bad power delivery and bad throttle response to oil leaks, unreliable engine braking, failing traction control, flashing dashboards and even a cracked frame. And these are the things we know about. In Great Britain Guy Martin and John McGuinness got nasty crashes because of gearbox problems with false neutrals, making McGuinness miss the Isle of Man TT and making Guy Martin withdraw after a crash in that same TT, and even quitting road racing completely.

And looking back at the last decade in World Superbike, it's hardly encouraging either. Just Jonathan Rea managed to get a bunch of wins by overriding that thing, making quite a reputation for himself with risky moves. When he went to Kawasaki in 2015, we found out how extremely good he really was. Leon Haslam was mainly crashing and hurting himself with the Honda, but just like his former team mate went immediately to the top of the field when he switched to Aprilia. At the same time reigning World Champion Guintoli went from Aprilia to Honda and he had to battle for top-10 placings. In 2016 with Van der Mark and Nicky Hayden the results were decent, but I have a feeling that was mainly due to the hard-pushing Van der Mark and the MotoGP skills of the ever positive-thinking Nicky Hayden.

I think Camier has more to lose than to gain by going to Honda. Doing what he does with that special MV sure makes him popular with fans and gets him a lot of respect from everybody. Also I think he will not fit the Honda very well, because he's even taller than Vd Mark. I predict he will be doing worse on the Honda than on the MV, but of course I could be completely wrong.

Leon's first paragraph full of, "now it is really quite competitive." & "I have to understand how the bike works, how the team works and how exact I have to be with my feedback" which sound positive.

Then Leon moves on to "not testing regularly because of budget", "it's really impressive what we've been able to achieve given the resources", "considering the budget that we have, we've been able to make some really good progress."

The overall problem seems to be the budget & resources that the MV race team has. Leon Camier can ride the bike.

Good luck to Leon and the team.

Leon is on the Honda next year. I remember the swagger he had when won the British Superbike title, and yet always seemed very professional and likable. Remember his broken leg crash at Cadwell, still makes me cringe. He deserves and I hope he gets a decent bike he can develop and fight at the front with, that would be good for all.

The announcement today of Camier's joining Ten Kate in 2018 is a confirmation of his skills as a rider and his developmental contributions at MV Agusta. The new Honda CBR will be a new development project for Leon and I hope for his sake that it has a high protential. This challenge comes at a time in his career that he should be reaping results for all his dedication and work, good fortune to him and his new team in 2018!