Britain’s Leon Camier was today announced as the new HRC WorldSBK team manager but the new and massive job means he has to leave behind something that he has been doing since his age was in single figures - and he freely admits the decision to stop racing was the hardest he has ever had to make.
The former British Superbike Champion has been on the injured list for the business end of two years now and although the troublesome shoulder allowed him to ride motocross, enduro and almost everything else, he can’t achieve the required pace to continue in WorldSBK.
A decision on whether to stop and begin thinking about other ways to keep the Andorran wolf from the door was hurried along a little when Camier got a call from HRC MotoGP boss Alberto Puig asking whether he would like to manage the WorldSBK team. The cogitations did not take long but it’s going to be a big job.
“Our Superbike project is such a big one. So you’re not relied on to do everything. My responsibilities at this stage are a probably a fair bit less than a lot of other team managers have,” Camier told bikesportnews.com.
“But the idea is that in the future my responsibilities will increase. HRC know me from having been in the team, they thought I would be good at the job and that’s great. For sure there’s a lot I’ve got to learn, no doubt.
It’s a completely different role but I think there’s a lot of positives. I’ve been in a lot of different teams, I have a lot of experience in WorldSBK. This is a relatively new team. It’s still a new bike. It does have one year under its belt but not a normal season either, with normal testing time and so on, but it is a really new situation for everyone.
“So we will work to build up the situation what we think is going to be competitive for the future. I know the rules and all the people in the championship. I know the riders and how things work technically with the bike and the tyres.
“I’ve already felt in the first few meetings we had, that there are things I can try and help with. So, I think the reason of how a rider can jump into this position and help straightaway, is that he knows the racing environment under many points of view. But sure there’s a lot of other things I’ve got to learn.”
Even though he is able to this week go and ride in a hard enduro with the likes of Jonny Walker, Camier cannot achieve what he wants to on the track - his shoulder is still not where it needs to be and this formed a large chunk of the decision to stop.
“I can feel it pretty much most of the time when I’m doing stuff, but it doesn’t really affect me with anything. I’ve ridden enduro, motocross, trials. It’s just road racing position that causes problems.
“The doctors are pretty confident and I’m pretty confident it’s a trapped nerve. It’s definitely fixable but I guess I’ve just lost the fun out of racing. Obviously a lot of stress and pressure goes with it. For me the only reason I do it is if I feel the potential to be competitive, if I feel I can try to win or get to the point where I’m winning races.
If I can see potential to move forward and get on a competitive bike, but I’ve sort of lost that bit of hope, if you like. A lot of injuries over the last years. I lost that massive desire that I had before to keep burying myself.
“From the outside it looks all glamorous and whatever else, but the reality is quite different from that. There’s a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, and massive dedication to it, sacrificing everything around you to try and be the best in the world.
“It’s not easy to try and stay at that top level or be the best in the world. I’ve lost that motivation for it through everything that’s happened.
“It’s really the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, to actually call it a day. And even though I wasn’t in a good place in it, in my head I was over it. In my head a big chunk of me thinks I’m not done yet. I still feel like I can give more. If my body was perfect, I still feel like I could be competitive. There is a big element of that, for sure. But at the same time, life goes on, doesn’t it? Life moves on.”
There was some chatter about Camier rejoining the British Superbike paddock in 2021 and the 6ft 2in Kent man doesn’t deny he had it as an option but then Puig really took it out of his hands. But there will be no testing duties.
“Do I want to keep burying myself giving everything I’ve got? There’s a point where it’s going to have to stop. If I don’t see the chance to be competitive on a competitive bike, if I don’t see a path to get on a bike in a team that can win, then there’s no meaning to me.
I don’t really want to keep doing it for the sake of it. I did think about BSB. It was a strong consideration for me. I know how good championship is, how fast the riders are and the level of the whole championship. I was considering it, but at the same time I’ve had a rough few years so felt I needed a change.
“I would have liked to have kept riding, to be honest. It would have been something nice to do, like testing or whatever just to sort of keep my hand in. But it is what it is. I’ll do some enduro and bicycle races and some things I enjoy. I’m not that good to be honest, but I really enjoy it because I saw the progress and there’s no pressure.
“I feel Ive had an amazing career, I didn’t get to achieve my dream of being world champion but I achieved many championships on the way, since I started racing at the age of six years old there’s only two championships that I competed in full time that I didn’t manage to win.
“One was the Superteen Championship where I finished third overall and the other was WorldSBK . All the other championships I managed to win and was the youngest rider at the time to win each one so all in all I’m very grateful and proud of what I achieved.
“I would also like to thank you everyone who has helped me through out my career. Without them it would have been impossible for me to try and chase my dream, the list is to long to write here but them people know who they are.
“Also a big thank you to all the fans that believed in me and supported through out my career, it you guys that make a difference.”