Fixi Crescent Suzuki's substitute rider Vincent Philippe produced a performance in today's second eni FIM Superbike World championship race that was more akin to a seasoned Superbike rider to take a sixth position.
Philippe got a solid start from the third row and by lap-two he was up into eighth. He then got into a smooth and consistent rhythm on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R before moving up to sixth by lap-six.
The Frenchman pulled a gap from the following group, but was too far adrift of the front pack to make any in-roads, so continued with a solitary - but impressive - race to steer his machine to sixth at the chequered flag to complete a successful debut weekend for the Suzuki Endurance Racing Team rider. Suzuki's reigning World Endurance Champion, who was replacing the injured Leon Camier, had shown his potential in race one after starting from ninth on the grid and then getting involved in a five-rider battle for sixth place. Philippe looked at home in the tussle and was hard-on-the-heels of Toni Elias when the Spaniard crashed, taking the Suzuki-man down with him.
As the two came to a halt Elias inexplicably remonstrated with Philippe for something that was clearly his own fault. The Frenchman looked astounded at this, but quickly re-mounted and continued to push hard, before eventually taking 13th at the flag,
"What a great weekend," Philippe enthused. "For sure first of all I need to thank all the staff on the team and especially the mechanics. Everybody has helped me a lot to be able to understand the bike, the suspension, the electronics and the tyres; in fact in every aspect. It is a fantastic bike and a fantastic team and it has been easy for me to learn all about it and feel good on the bike.
"I pushed in the second race, not too much and I am so happy with the result. In the first race it was a very good fight and great to battle with the top riders and it was a shame what happened, but that is racing.
"In the second race it was better for me because with my style that sort of fight is not what I am used to and I need more experience, so when I was alone it was easy for me to ride like I wanted to. It has been a good weekend and I have got lots of experience from it.
"I would like to ride the FIXI Crescent Suzuki again, but if not that is ok, because this has been a good present from the team and Suzuki France, and thank-you everybody," he concluded.