Team Suzuki Press Office – May 23. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty both secured their places in the second of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship’s Superpole sessions with fifth and seventh positions respectively at Donington Park today for tomorrow’s Superpole.
A revised schedule at the Leicestershire circuit in the UK saw Friday holding all three of the timed-for-qualifying Free Practice sessions; and with rain expected from midway through the day, the morning’s first free practice session was all important: Local rider Lowes was quick from the off, setting first and second position-times repeatedly on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R. Laverty advanced to fourth with 15 minutes to go, but as the track dried-out, the times tumbled, leaving the Irishman holding seventh.
A consistent second session saw both riders initially in the top-four, despite a small ‘off’ from Lowes at the midpoint. With five minutes remaining, the British racer set the fastest time of 1’28.187, but in the dying seconds, Ducati’s Davide Giugliano and Kawasaki’s Loris Baz denied his efforts to leave him third. Laverty advanced his Suzuki GSX-R to sixth, positive with the developments made so far.
The day’s final timed session took place on Friday evening, in a change to the normal European schedule. Drops of rain were recorded in several sectors early on but while the white flag was raised, the weather failed to fully interrupt proceedings until the final minutes. With only two riders managing to improve their times from the earlier outings, Lowes finished the day in fifth, with Laverty seventh; both ensuring their places in the top-10 for Saturday’s Superpole shoot-out.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki is back in action at 09:30hrs local time for the final 30 minutes of free practice before the two Superpole sessions, scheduled for 12:00hrs and 12:25hrs (BST) respectively.
“Today felt good! The last session we made some good improvements to the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, did a longer run on the harder tyre and then got a bit caught-out with the rain so we didn’t get the chance to use the softer tyre for a better lap-time. Despite that it was really good, I’m happy with the improvements made to the bike and obviously I enjoy riding this track. I think we’ve got a pretty good pace, we’ve put a lot of laps in today, a lot of hard work; and hopefully it will pay off this weekend!”
“The first session was good; the second session was really good! I had a smile on my face because everything looked like it was going to plan, and then in the third practice we lost more-or-less the whole 45 minutes. We had a technical glitch and again – just like Imola – we’ve lost more track-time and you can’t afford to give these guys an advantage like that. That said, our base-level feels pretty good and I’m positive we can do well here.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It’s been a good first day’s work here at Donington and despite the forecast, and ominous clouds all day, it’s been a bonus for everybody to do some good quality dry running. The GSX-R1000 is performing well here; the bike appears to have suited the race-track from the first lap onwards. Alex has had a great day and his long-run on the hardest tyre option this afternoon was excellent. I’m sure we would have seen a very flashy lap-time if we had been able to use the soft tyre at the end of the session, but the rain put paid to that.
“Eugene has also looked very confident and had an excellent rhythm but suffered some unfortunate “Eugene electronics” trauma and wasn’t able to do any constructive work in the last session of the day. The green bikes look very fast so the target is to continue to improve the Suzuki, close the gap to them; and fight for the podium on Sunday.”
Donington – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Free Practice combined times: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’27.840; 2. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +0.242; 3. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 0.292; 4. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +0.341; 5 Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.347. 7. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki +0.655.