Team Suzuki Press Office – July 5. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki is looking forward to the two eni FIM Superbike World Championship races at the Portimao circuit in Portugal tomorrow after a promising second day at the track saw both racers on the pace despite a challenging Superpole.
Eugene Laverty will start from seventh on the grid for Sunday’s races after a successful day had seen him running second and fourth in the earlier free practice sessions. Consistently within the top-four times throughout the two-days at the Portuguese circuit so-far, the Irishman is encouraged by his Yoshimura-powered machine and firmly believes he has the capacity to challenge under race conditions tomorrow.
A high-speed crash at the end of his first flying lap of Superpole on qualifying tyres sees Alex Lowes reside in 11th, despite a promising pace which looked to have seen him on the second row. Largely unharmed from the off, the Englishman remains positive of his Suzuki GSX-R’s potential ahead of tomorrow’s battle, with less than 0.3-of-a-second separating the top-10 in the morning practice.
The warm conditions continued at the Autodromo do Algarve with track temperatures reaching 49°C for the afternoon’s Superpole while a strong wind kept the circuit a fresh 27°C for the visiting fans. Pole position was claimed by Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes, with Sylvain Barrier leading the Evo class’ times.
In a change to the standard European schedule, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s first race will commence at 12:00BST tomorrow with the second instalment following at 15:00BST.
“It’s a disappointing qualifying as I have been inside the top-four in every session this weekend. I have always been aiming for the first two rows and I thought that would be a minimum today and we are seventh. The bike has been good in practice, we had our struggles over one lap which has often been the case this year, but the bike is fantastic from mid-distance on, so if I can get in the mix early I know I will be strong towards the end!”
“Obviously I’m unhappy with the crash today; the GSX-R had a lot of potential and we have made some good progress this weekend. I really enjoy the Portimao circuit so I’m looking forward to regrouping this evening, getting down to work and coming back fighting for tomorrow’s races.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We have had another very positive day here at Portimao right up until Superpole started! At this point the bikes are still in parc ferme and we have yet to download the data but it appears that for both riders the engine braking character was different in that session than earlier in the day. We don’t know if that is connected with track temperature or the fact that the wind got up a lot but either way the bike was tough to ride to make the lap-time that we needed.
“The positives are that even with the problems Eugene is seventh, and is only a couple of tenths-off the front row, so even with the issues we’ve shown good potential and good speed. Alex got caught out on the fastest corner of the track and went down on his first timed lap on the qualifier when on front row pace which was a pity. It was a very fast accident so the biggest positive we can take from that is that he is essentially uninjured, apart from a few bumps and scrapes, and in a positive frame-of-mind for the races tomorrow.”
Portimao – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’42.484: 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.281: 3. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.440: 4. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +0.554: 5. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +0.564: 7. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.761. 11. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.356.