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Lowes & Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Head Portimao 2nd Row

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Team Suzuki Press Office – June 6.

A ‘rollercoaster’ Saturday at the Portimao Circuit saw Alex Lowes overcome a challenging morning to claim a spectacular fourth in the afternoon’s World Superbike Superpole.

Lowes’ positive start to the Portuguese event – sitting third in Friday morning’s first practice – took a difficult turn as the weekend developed with the British racer struggling with set-up on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R. Saturday morning saw him fail to qualify immediately for the top-10, concluding the final timed free practice in 13th, with similar frustrations in FP4.

Regrouping for the opening Superpole, Lowes’ determination was evident, a 1’42.499 saw him top the session and secure his promotion into Superpole 2. He continued his consistent pace before heading back-out on the Pirelli qualifier – and his 1’42.198 lap was enough to take fourth in the times and will see him lead the second row for tomorrow’s race grid.

Randy de Puniet continued his progression and development both with the Algarve circuit and his Suzuki GSX-R1000, improving his lap times by a second-per -session throughout the two days. The afternoon heat amplifying yesterday’s engine brake issue on a 52°C track surface, his 1’44.273 qualifying lap finds him in 16th for Sunday’s races.

Ducati’s Davide Giugliano proved his Imola return was far from a one-off, claiming the pole position with a 1’41.764 under the powerful Portuguese sun.

Sunday’s two races see Lowes and de Puniet on track at 10:30BST and 13:10 respectively for 20 laps of the rollercoaster Autodromo International do Algarve.

Alex Lowes:

“We had a difficult day until qualifying! We had a few issues this morning and I was really struggling for confidence but we got our heads down in Superpole, made some changes, got a bit of confidence back and did a good job to be fourth. We need to keep improving for tomorrow – it’s going to be two hard races – and we still need to be realistic and hopefully we can do a solid job. Two top-sixes is the aim for me, and if I can keep riding well, keep consistent, then we should be alright. Thanks to the lads over the difficult weekend, it sounds like a broken record but yet again we dug deep, tried to keep plugging-away and got a bit of a reward in qualifying, but obviously it’s tomorrow that counts in the races!”

Randy de Puniet:

“Today we improved the bike regarding the engine brake this morning and it was feeling good. This afternoon we struggled with the actual brake power so it’s an issue when it’s hot, and I have a problem stopping the bike. We are trying to fix the problem for tomorrow afternoon, because the morning is fine. We are also looking to improve my confidence with the traction control, because the bike is a bit aggressive at the moment, and also the chassis. Tomorrow I am hoping we can follow the guys a bit, improve the lap-times and be more consistent.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“A strange weekend so-far in that we started quite strongly, especially with Alex, and then suffered a number of issues which really hurt the overall performance of the bike – ending up with Alex’s 13th position in pre-qualifying. To jump from the rhythm of mid-44’s to make a high ‘42’s on the race tyre and near-enough a ‘42 flat on the qualifier was an incredible job by him but also respect to PJ, Davide and Alex’s crew for not overreacting to the problems and concentrating on improving the priorities. We haven’t had the pace of the front guys all weekend until qualifying so the race will certainly hold some challenges, but the grid position will help a huge amount and if we can improve further tomorrow morning let’s see what race day can bring.

“The result from Randy doesn’t look very special, but in fact the gap to the fastest riders and the qualifying position is an improvement to the last events. Randy is working hard, putting in the laps, putting in the effort in the debriefs, but struggling to find full confidence and understanding still, to go to the limits with the Pirelli tyres and the Superbike. It’s a pity because as his career has shown, he has plenty of speed; we just need to keep working together to adapt that speed to the Superbike.”

Portimao – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1’41.764: 2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.116: 3. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.359: 4. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.434: 5. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +0.453. 16. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) SP1.