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Lowes Sets Blistering Place in WSB Superpole

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Team Suzuki Press Office – May 23.

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes will start his home World Superbike race at Donington Park from the middle of the second row after securing fifth place in today’s Superpole.

A stunning performance on race rubber saw Lowes take provisional pole twice in the early stages of this afternoon’s qualifying session with two consecutively quick laps – the best an incredible 1’27.670, the fastest ever recorded Superbike lap at Donington on a race tyre. Switching to qualifying tyres, the local racer continued to improve his time before a run-off at turn one cut his second attempt short, leaving him fifth in the times. A promising morning had already seen Lowes improve slightly on his Friday best, setting a 1’28.530 midway through the 30 minute session despite the 50% reduction in track temperature from the previous afternoon.

Optimistic after his promising first-day development with his Suzuki GSX-R1000, Randy de Puniet was disappointed by his Superpole set-back as he struggled with a gear-shifting issue. The problem, causing him to run-on at the first corner on his qualifying lap, leaves him in 18th position and starting tomorrow’s challenge from the sixth row.

Barely warming from the morning’s 12°C temperatures, a grey and heavily overcast day greeted the Leicestershire circuit as Tom Sykes was awarded Superpole, setting a 1’27.071 on his Kawasaki.

Lowes returns to his home track at 12:00BST tomorrow with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team-mate de Puniet, for the first of two 23-lap races. The second instalment of Donington Park action commences at 15:00BST.

Alex Lowes:

“I’m happy with today! Obviously we have made some good steps with the bike and the team is working well. It doesn’t really feel like we’ve done much today – with the one practice session and then Superpole – but I’ve done my best lap around Donington, fifth on the grid, we know we can get good starts on the GSX-R and my race-pace looks really good. So a good night’s sleep tonight and I’ll give everything I’ve got tomorrow to get the best results for the team. It’s really nice to see the fans out there, give them a bit of a wave and hopefully we can put on a good show for them tomorrow in my special livery!”

Randy de Puniet:

“I am disappointed about today because yesterday was quite positive and we were in a good direction. We made small changes overnight but since this morning’s FP4 I have not been able to downshift which made it so, so difficult to stop the bike. It was a problem yesterday but not at this level and I was still able to manage. We tried again to solve this for Superpole but it was the same, and I went straight on during my qualifying lap. We really need to fix this for tomorrow’s races but it is a shame; after a good first day I expected to improve again and reduce the gap but in the end it was the opposite. I’m disappointed but hoping we can find a solution for the race.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Everyone in the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team had hoped, following huge additional efforts since Imola to find solutions, that we had made some progress. And over the course of three sessions yesterday and qualifying today I think we can be confident that we’ve turned the corner and got a better understanding of the electronics system. The qualifying result, and Alex setting by far the best race-tyre lap of the weekend with an incredible 27.6, feels as good as a pole position, and as the bike continues to improve Alex’s confidence will rebuild and we can start racing properly again. Congratulations to Alex on helping us turn the corner, and to everyone involved in the team on both sides of the garage for sticking with it.

“Randy’s qualifying result is really disappointing because it doesn’t show the progress that he’s made. You have to be able to back-shift properly to get the bike stopped at Donington Park, and Randy struggled with that in qualifying far more so than in yesterday’s sessions so we weren’t able to match Friday’s pace. But with a bike now operating properly and the team being able to understand the setting changes, we’ll keep supporting Randy and try to find the best solutions to allow him to gain more confidence and to improve.”

Donington – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’27.071: 2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.237: 3. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +0.273: 4. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +0.464: 5. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.483. 18. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) SP1.