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Strong Opening Day for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki

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Team Suzuki Press Office – June 5.

A strong opening performance on his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki saw Alex Lowes secure the sixth-fastest time during Friday’s free practice at Portimao in Portugal today ahead of this weekend’s seventh round of the eni FIM World Superbike Championship.

Lowes set his fastest-lap of the morning on his final revolution and overcame early challenges to claim third in the times for the opening session, with a 1’44.394. Continuing a consistence pace aboard his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 for the afternoon encounter, the British racer completed a tally of 29 laps of the 4,592m circuit; his 1’43.942 best placing him sixth in the combined times ahead of Saturday’s final timed-for-qualifying session.

Randy de Puniet took to the Portuguese track for the first time on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 in fine conditions – his only previous visit to the Algarve circuit having been hit by inclement weather during pre-season testing – completing 23 laps during Friday’s two sessions. His still-unsolved engine-brake strategy hampering his study of the new layout, de Puniet concluded the day’s practice in 19th.

An FIM Environmental Ambassador since 2012, the Frenchman led the way this evening as WSBK contributed to the annual celebrations of World Environment Day with a Championship-wide photograph, Ducati’s Davide Giugliano topping the times on track with a 1’43.323.

Lowes and de Puniet return to the circuit at 09:45BST tomorrow morning for the first of two free practice sessions. Superpole commences at 15:00BST.

Alex Lowes:

“A difficult day for us. We’re working hard, like every race, but it is difficult to be quite as competitive as we want at the moment. I’m really enjoying the Portimao track and the team is working well; we just need to find a few settings to help make my job a bit easier tomorrow and to move forward across the weekend. It was a good day, but we’re not quite there yet!”

Randy de Puniet:

“It has been a difficult first day with a small crash this morning. I struggled with engine-brake to stop the bike and in all the small corners I have no confidence in the front. We were working on that this afternoon but we have yet to find the best solution. I’m still hoping to improve tomorrow.

“I have been an Ambassador for the FIM Environmental project for the past three years and it is great to see the Championship coming together to support the message.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“It is always nice to come to Portimao. It’s a stunning race track, but an extremely-challenging one for the riders and to get the bike working well. We obviously made big steps forward in Donington with the new electronics system, but Portimao has thrown-up one-or-two additional problems in terms of getting the settings right and making the bike a bit calmer and easier to ride on this undulating track. Alex has done extremely well to go third quickest in the first session and sixth overall, especially when we consider that there have been some fairly big issues today that we need to improve for tomorrow.

“Randy’s had another tough day struggling with front feeling and the character of the engine-brake so all we can do is keep trying to find solutions to help him move forward.”

Portimao – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Free Practice Combined Times: 1. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1’43.323: 2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.058: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.273: 4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.453: 5. Ayrton Badovini (BMW) +0.496: 6. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.619: 19. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +3.306