Team Suzuki Press Office – July 12. In a solid opening day’s work for the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team, Alex Lowes set a flying last lap in the third eni FIM Superbike World Championship free practice at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to claim fifth position and secure his place in Superpole 2.
The British rider had spent the majority of Friday’s action learning the American circuit on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R before setting a 1’23.573 in the dying minutes of the final practice. Despite missing a considerable part of the early afternoon session due to technical issues, Lowes is confident he can continue to learn more about the Laguna track and build on his impressive form as the weekend progresses.
Eugene Laverty got up to speed on his Suzuki GSX-R and maintained a consistently strong pace throughout the demanding three-session schedule. The Irishman is confident of his race ability come Sunday, but will look to further improve his one-lap performance in the final free practice session ahead of the all-important Superpole qualifier.
Unexpectedly British conditions greeted the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team for the opening day of World Superbike action at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as Lowes and Laverty got to grips with their respective GSX-R1000’s under grey and cloudy skies. As the Californian sun finally made itself known the temperatures rose for the afternoon sessions, rising from 18°C to 23°C and warming the track to a high of 43°C.
Ex-AMA rider Chaz Davies took the fastest time of the day with a 1’23.293 early in the third stint, while his EVO counterpart Niccolò Canepa set the benchmark for the class on his Althea Ducati.
With only the final non-timed free practice session scheduled, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will be back in action at the Laguna Seca circuit at 10:00hrs local time (18:00BST) ahead of the afternoon’s Superpole qualifying commencing at 13:00hrs local time (21:00BST).
“It was a really difficult day being my first time here so there was a lot to learn. We had some problems in the middle session which affected my confidence but we bounced back well in the last session. We’ve made some changes to the bike and I started to enjoy it so hopefully there is plenty to improve on for tomorrow. We still need to make a few steps but I’m looking forward to it.”
“We worked really well today! I think with the summer break looming we know we need to get a good result here. We’ve made some good steps with the GSX-R today and race pace is good. We still have a performance issue on a new tyre but for our race pace on the tyre we were really strong. I’m confident for the race but our focus is improving that rear setting to allow me to use the new tyre in Superpole. Last time out we should have been there fighting at the front but a bad Superpole cost us, so that is the key for tomorrow morning.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“A great performance by riders and the crew today; it’s been a tough schedule with three free practice sessions but the bikes have run strongly and we have improved the level step-by-step over the course of the day. Alex has done an incredible job to be fifth and the fastest of the Laguna rookies. It’s a great result, particularly after we had some problems in free practice two that had slowed down the progress a little bit.
“Eugene – or as they prefer to call him around these parts, the Toomebridge Tornado – has been really consistent all day and a 1’23.8 on tyres that had done 25 laps in FP3 gives us a lot of encouragement for the race. One free practice session in the morning and then Superpole and it’s just everything crossed that both riders can keep the momentum going towards Superpole and that we can qualify well, which will be critical in terms of a decent race result.”
Laguna Seca – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Free Practice Combined Times: 1. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 1’23.293: 2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.021: 3. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +0.104: 4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.169: 5. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.280: 6. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.336.