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Laverty Aims to Improve Imola WSB Races

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Team Suzuki Press Office – May 10.   Voltcom Crescent Suzuki racer Eugene Laverty will start tomorrow’s races at the Imola Circuit in Italy on the third row after completing this afternoon’s Superpole qualifying in eighth place despite an encouraging morning’s work.

Laverty had showed promise on the Yoshimura-powered GSX-R throughout the morning’s two free practice sessions, almost breaking the 1’48 barrier to hold fifth in the last of the timed slots ahead of qualifying for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship’s fourth round. The Irishman’s expectation for the Superpole, however, was not fulfilled and a frustrating time of 1’47.715 left him settling for eighth on the grid for Sunday’s two races at the Italian track.

Alex Lowes had a similar rollercoaster of a day: Continuing his development with both the Suzuki GSX-R1000 and the notoriously-tricky Imola circuit, Lowes impressed in the morning’s free practices, consistently hitting the 1’48.1 mark; his lap-times echoing his growing confidence. Unfortunately the potential would remain untapped as a possible technical issue resulted in the team’s decision to withdraw the bike for the Superpole session. The Englishman will start tomorrow’s races from 12th place on the grid but his growing form and confidence with the track guarantee that he is certainly up for the challenge.

The soaring Italian temperatures reached 29°C for the afternoon’s 15 minute shootout with Honda’s Jonathan Rea claiming pole position on a blistering 51°C track surface.

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will regroup overnight in preparation for tomorrow’s first race at 10:30hrs local time (09:30BST), the second instalment scheduled for 13:10hrs local time (12:10BST).

Eugene Laverty:

“Another really difficult day! My aim was to be on the first two rows for Superpole to give myself a chance to start, and again I’m on the third row. It makes it difficult for ourselves but aside from that we have some work to do. Corner-entry is the biggest issue we have and we need to get some flow with the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki to allow it to handle the way I need it to. We’ll see what the races bring but I will be giving it my all.”

Alex Lowes:

“I feel a lot more comfortable on the track today, the bike’s improving, I’m improving and I feel like I’ve worked really well this weekend. To be seventh before the qualifying session was good; we were just unlucky I didn’t get to go out and be further up the grid. It’s going to be difficult tomorrow but I’m going to do my best, enjoy it a lot; and hopefully I can take some experience and some good points ready for my home race at Donington. I do generally feel like I’m riding better, I think I’m doing a good job; and I’m looking forward to the races even though I know how hard it’s going to be after a difficult day today.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“There is no hiding behind it, the qualifying result today was a disaster and we felt we had the potential to do much better. I feel particularly bad for Alex because he has progressed really well over the course of the weekend, to a point where he was very close to the 47’s in free practice and I really believe he could have qualified very strongly. A yet-undefined potential gearbox issue is always a huge concern because, should there be a failure, the rider cannot do anything to control the situation. It was extremely hard to tell Alex that we wouldn’t be able to go out in Superpole but it was the only choice as a team that we could make. The rider’s safety and those of the other competitors has to be a bigger priority than any other; the guys are looking at it now and hopefully we will find a definitive and solvable fault so we can remedy it for race day tomorrow.

“Eugene’s qualifying was just simply disappointing. From 48.0, and fifth place in FP3 this morning we expected that forward momentum to continue, but if anything we went backwards between that session and qualifying. That said the lap-by-lap pace on race tyres is a different story and with both the guys I think the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki can do a much better job in the races tomorrow.”

Imola – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’46.289: 2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.265: 3. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +0.266: 4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.389: 5. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +0.451. 8. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.426. 12. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).