British rider Leon Camier said he was shocked at how competitive he was on the Aspar production Honda after a brilliant MotoGP debut weekend in Indianapolis.
The former British Superbike champion had never ridden the RCV1000R before last Friday’s opening practice session and he had no experience of carbon brakes and had never ridden at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
After a steady start, the 28-year-old excelled in the Spanish Aspar squad as stand-in for injured 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden.
He produced a stunning performance on soft tyres in qualifying to claim 16th on the grid, and he was faster in QP1 than teammate Hiroshi Aoyama and fellow RCV1000R rider Karel Abraham.
He was then running inside the points in the 27-lap race before his weekend was cut short by a sensor failure.
The issue kept cutting power on the RCV1000R and it eventually forced Camier to retire.
But his performance certainly made several people in the paddock take note of how well he had acquitted himself in difficult circumstances and Camier admitted he had not expected to have been so competitive.
Speaking to MCN, he said: “I am shocked because I really didn’t expect to do this at all. But I think the bike suits my style, which is good in terms of the way you work with the tyres and the brakes are good and strong.
"To have a front-end that digs in and turns like it does is really positive for my riding style. The Bridgestone front tyre is amazing and you can really abuse it. I learned so much in the race battling with the other guys. It was mostly about the chassis and what you need to get out of the bike and the tyres.
"We made a change for the race and I felt I could brake better when upright but I couldn’t carry the speed in the corners where we didn’t brake so much. So I couldn’t turn the bike so good and that was making me run wide in all the chicanes.”
The failed sensor just typified the bad luck Camier has had recently. He thought he would be staying with the Crescent Suzuki squad in WSB for 2014 but got replaced at the last-minute.
He then signed a deal to ride for the Ioda Racing squad in MotoGP but that deal fell through in the build-up to the first race.
But Camier was still taking the positives out of a superb weekend in America and he added: “I was really unlucky because a little sensor went and it cut the engine out a couple of times. Even when I was riding early on it was inconsistent and sometimes it would rev and another time it wouldn’t.
"It was unlucky but I learned a lot in the race, even when things weren’t quite right. I know where I need to improve and riding with the others I could judge what I was doing off of them, which is how you learn the most to know what direction to go in with the bike. It was a shame I didn’t get the whole race together because I am sure I could have come strong at the end but it is what it is.”
Camier will continue to deputise for Hayden this weekend in Brno, and he is on standby in case the Kentucky rider is not fit for any future races as he recovers from major right wrist surgery in the summer break.