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Determined Lowes 8th in Aragon WSB Superpole

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Team Suzuki Press Office – April 11. Alex Lowes dug deep to claim eighth position for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki in today’s World Superbike Superpole at Motorland Aragon in Spain.

A difficult day had seen both Lowes and Randy de Puniet out of the top-10 for the morning’s final free practice, qualifying them for the opening Superpole 1 this afternoon. The British racer pushed hard for the first 15-minute session, a spectacular last-lap progressing him into Superpole 2. Fresh determination, and qualifying rubber, resulted in a renewed push from Lowes to get the best from his Yoshimura-powered machine and despite the worry of end of session traffic, his 1’50.924 secured him eighth position, lining him up on row three for Sunday’s battles.

Continuing to struggle with the settings of his GSX-R’s new electronics package, de Puniet failed to tame his Suzuki Superbike for the Spanish qualifying. A high-side in the final free practice and a throttle connection issue in the following session left him little time to recover his pace and confidence. A mistake on the Frenchman’s last timed lap in Superpole saw him conclude the day with 19th position and a row-seven start for tomorrow’s races.

Aprilia’s Leon Haslam claimed his second career pole to date with a 1’49.664 as the top three riders became the only ones to break the 1’50 barrier.

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s WSBK race action begins at 10:30hrs local time tomorrow (09:30BST) with race two on track at the Motorland Aragon Circuit at13:10hrs (12:10BST).

Alex Lowes:

“Today was difficult but we stayed calm. We’re working hard and we’re improving every time we go out so we’ve just got to keep working as we are. I did the best I could with what I had and I will try to do a better job tomorrow. Thanks to the Crescent team as they are all working so hard to get us to where we know we can be – I really feel we have more potential in the long run with this system.”

Randy de Puniet:

“It was a very difficult day because this morning we struggled again with the electronics. I had a high-side but I am fine, which is a good point. This afternoon, we continued to have an issue with the engine brake and traction control connection, so we lost the final free practice session and most of the Superpole because of this. I made a mistake, running wide on my qualifying tyre, and thought I had one more lap to recover but when I crossed the line I saw the chequered flag. When nothing is going well it is a nightmare, but I really hope to do well and have a better feeling tomorrow, get a good start and to score points.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“The challenges of introducing a complete new electronics system on the bike as an independent team – bearing in mind that we only have our in-house team to research, design, develop and test – has obviously been a big challenge and today, if anything, became more difficult compared to yesterday. For that reason the team has not been able to make a single chassis setting change so we have done none of the normal work that you would expect over the course of the two days, it’s been a matter of focussing solely on trying to make the bike rideable and predictable for Alex and Randy. With that in mind, for Alex to qualify eighth, just over one second from the fastest rider on such a long track, is nothing short of a miracle and for me is an even better performance than his front row in Thailand at the last round. Having achieved that kind of lap-time the data is now better for the engineers to try and take the next step and if we can have two solid races and score some reasonable points tomorrow we can then look forward to further development and taking full advantage of the additional capacity of the new system.

“Randy has faced the same difficulties as Alex but has found it more difficult to adapt and continue to push. For him, following the Phillip Island injury he needed a good solid event to rebuild confidence and unfortunately the timing of the electronics change couldn’t have been worse on his side, but we all know how fast he is and we’ll pull together and try to give him the best opportunity we can to demonstrate his ability.”

Aragon – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) 1’49.664: 2. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.033: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.199: 4. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.389: 5. Xavi Fores (Ducati) +07.85. 8. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.260. 19. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) SP1.