Team Suzuki Press Office – June 7. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki racer Eugene Laverty secured seventh on the grid for tomorrow’s inaugural eni FIM Superbike World Championship races at the Sepang International Circuit during a blistering Superpole in Malaysia this afternoon.
Laverty narrowly missed-out on a second-row position after setting a time of 2’04.263 to start at the head of the third row for tomorrow’s first Superbike race at the Malaysian circuit. Having initially struggled with set-up, the Irishman settled into a comfortable rhythm with his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R, despite the tropical heat recording highs of 35°C and above, and feels confident that it’s a consistency he can carry through to tomorrow’s two races.
Temperatures had already hit yesterday’s peak by the start of the morning free practice, which saw Alex Lowes miss-out on a top-10 spot and therefore automatic promotion into the second of this afternoon’s Superpole sessions. Enduring the heat for both 15 minute stints, the British rider easily secured his place in the top-12 with a time of 2’05.038 on his second flying lap of the opening session on-board his Suzuki GSX-R1000. While track temperatures soared to 60°C for the final shoot-out the championship rookie continued to improve, a 2’04.433 his fastest time of the day, to round-out the third row in ninth place.
Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli continued his weekend form to claim Pole with a 2’03.002.
Sunday’s race action gets underway at 13:30hrs and 16:30hrs local time (06:30 and 09:30 BST) and Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will look to advance early from its third row positions to challenge at the front during its Asian Superbike debut.
“We almost got the second row that I was after, but I made a mistake at the end of my best lap that otherwise would have got us there. P7 was a good day’s work considering we lost most of free practice four with a technical problem. The bike is working well in the hot conditions and it looks like tomorrow afternoon will be just that, so I need to get a good start and see how race one goes!”
“We are slowly getting there, it’s been quite difficult this weekend, but we improved a little bit for qualifying and being in Superpole 1 actually gave me a bit more time to try a few things. I’m happy enough but it’s going to be some hard racing tomorrow. Hopefully we can make a few more changes to the front of the bike in warm-up and enjoy two good races.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We have been improving the bike and the potential over the course of the weekend and we got a little bit closer to the fastest guys in qualifying today. Eugene was definitely good for the second row, but a mistake in the final corner cost us half a second, which has just knocked us back a little bit. Alex has improved considerably, and to come from Superpole 1 and end up-on the third row is not a bad result. The top-three riders seem to have a different level of pace here, especially on the new tyres, but after only four-or-five laps, the grip is going to be gone for everybody and the race result will be defined by maintaining a decent lap-time for 16 laps. We will do our best to get the GSX-R set-up to accomplish the best result we possibly can tomorrow.”
Sepang – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 2’03.002; 2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.106; 3. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +0.135; 4. Toni Elias (Aprilia) +0.158; 5. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +0.969. 7. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.261. 9. Alex Lowes Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.431.