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Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Move Forward at Assen

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Team Suzuki Press Office – April 17. Continuing the detailed electronics development started at Aragon a week ago, Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet took to the Assen TT Circuit in the Netherlands today for the opening free practices on their Voltcom Crescent Suzuki World Superbikes.

A frustrating morning saw both racers spend the majority of the first 45-minute session evaluating data in the garage rather than completing actual track time – with Lowes and de Puniet completing 10 and 13 laps respectively with their Yoshimura-powered machines – but the efforts paid dividends as the Englishman’s afternoon progression highlighted. Improving his pace by almost three seconds, Lowes completed the practice in seventh with a time of 1’36.918 – just over a second from Friday’s fastest.

Initially the stronger of the two Suzuki riders on morning pace, de Puniet was feeling confident heading into the afternoon practice. An issue with the traction control system, however, hindered further advancement – the Frenchman improving his time by just half a second to conclude the day in 16th and determined to regroup ahead of Saturday’s qualification.

A dry and bright TT Circuit brought temperatures of just 11°C for the fourth round of the World Superbike Championship’s opening day, despite a brief shower threatening to disrupt the morning session. Ducati’s Chaz Davies topped the times sheets with a 1’35.748 ahead of the earlier victor, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes.

The team returns to the Assen TT Circuit at 09:45hrs local time (08:45BST) tomorrow morning for the last timed free practice, the non-timed session on track at 12:30hrs (11:30BST) before the afternoon’s two 15 minutes Superpole qualifiers commence at 15:00hrs (14:00BST).

Alex Lowes:

“Another difficult day. We’ve made some steps in the right direction but it will be interesting to see if we can improve further tomorrow. I’m still not 100% confident with the bike but I’m hoping once we gain that confidence we can find the consistency and pace that we need. The lads are doing a good job and we are all doing our best to find a solution, I really appreciate the hard work so once we’ve slept on it tonight we can come back fresh and ready to tackle it head-on tomorrow.”

Randy de Puniet:

“It was not an easy day overall. This morning was looking ok but when we decided to improve the traction control this afternoon it was in the wrong direction. We tried a number of things but in the end there was no improvement so we finished both sessions without a decent traction control setting. We also tried a new tyre at the end of the afternoon but the feeling wasn’t good, I thought I needed more time to warm the tyre but I’m not sure so we finished the session in 16th which is not where I was expecting to be after running 11th this morning. I am really hoping to be in the top-10 so we need to work hard tonight to find a solution and improve the GSX-R further. Now is not the time to lose motivation so we need to continue to focus and come back fighting for a good grid-place tomorrow.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“The riders have said it all really – all we can do is focus, do our best and work hard to solve the setting problems we have with the new Magneti Marelli system. The bike is not yet predictable or settled enough, both in corner entry and exit, and as we solve one issue we highlight another. The GSX-R is fundamentally a competitive bike, it is fast and is turning well, but both our guys are riding with one hand tied behind their backs right now. Plaudits to them for remaining so calm and focused; we will keep pushing hard to get back to where they and the team can be.”

Assen – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Free Practice Combined Times: 1. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 1.35.748: 2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.320: 3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.442: 4. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +0.732: 5. Michael van der Mark (Honda) +0.777: 7. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.170. 16. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +2.318.