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Positive Start for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki at Misano

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Team Suzuki Press Office – June 19.

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki made a positive start to the Misano World Superbike round in Italy today concluding free practice sixth-tenths-of-a-second from provisional pole as Alex Lowes claimed ninth in the combined times.

With improvements to his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 evident from the off, Lowes completed 39 laps of the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli across the day’s two 45-minute sessions – matching the total of returning Aprilia rider Max Biaggi. Less than half-a-second separated the top nine riders for the majority of the afternoon session, with Lowes initially running top-three after just five laps on track. A small crash in the closing minutes prevented the British racer from making any late advances. However, his 1’36.052 keeps him firmly in contention with the front-runners heading into Saturday’s final timed practice.

A disappointing morning gave way to a promising afternoon for Randy de Puniet with significant developments made to his Suzuki GSX-R1000. Navigating the Rimini circuit for 29 laps – despite early technical issues grounding some of his first session – the Frenchman undertook extensive set-up changes to reduce his pace by two seconds. Concluding the day in 18th, but just 1.5 seconds from the top, de Puniet is confident of more to come from the weekend.

Announcing his return to the Championship with a dominating performance, Biaggi headed both of the day’s sessions – his 1’35.380 best set in the final five-minutes as the new Misano surface reached 43°C.

Lowes and de Puniet return to the World Circuit at 09:45hrs local time (08:45BST) for the final timed free practice ahead of Saturday’s Superpole at 15:00hrs (14:00BST).

Alex Lowes:

“It’s been a positive day. Everything we found at the Portimao test is working at Misano this weekend. Realistically at the moment, it’s looking like we have a motorcycle that is capable of challenging the top-six. We have some changes with the electronics and the chassis to make tomorrow to hopefully find two-or-three-tenths and be a bit more competitive. I had a small crash at the end of the last session but it was nothing; I knew I was on the limit with the front and it just tucked, so lesson-learnt and we’ll keep moving forward.”

Randy de Puniet:

“This morning we struggled again and unfortunately I had a problem with the engine, so it was not so good for us. This afternoon everything was much better and we really started to work. It was a very interesting session for me after so many frustrating weekends, being able to work on more than just the electronics. I really hope we can improve tomorrow as we improved between today’s two sessions and to continue to reduce the gap. We did quite a few laps today so I’m feeling confident for more tomorrow.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Portimao was the first opportunity to test since we implemented the new Marelli ECU and we hoped the improvements there would translate to Misano. Fortunately they have and today was a more normal Friday. We are looking for the performance to improve in handling, engine braking and all the usual areas as the weekend progresses. The GSX-R is behaving normally around the Misano track and whilst we’re not quite as quick as we would like to be, the gaps are very small and we’ve been able to do a high number of laps with perfect durability so it’s a solid start to the weekend.”

Misano – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Free Practice Combined Times: 1. Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1’35.380: 2. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +0.251: 3. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.257: 4. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +0.272: 5. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.355: 9. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.672: 18. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.555.