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Lowes & Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Top Jerez FP2

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Team Suzuki Press Office – September 18.

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes returned from the summer break in fine form as he topped the afternoon practice at the Jerez Circuit in Spain today, to take third in the overall times as the eni FIM Superbike World Championship got back underway.

A cooler start – despite the morning’s temperatures already heading in to the mid 20’s (with the track at 31°C) – saw Lowes struggle with a front brake issue in FP1, preventing him from utilising the full 45-minute session. However, once rectified, the British racer quickly re-familiarised himself with his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R and the Andalucían layout. As the afternoon asphalt recorded 48°C, Lowes exploited his July experience from the Sepang and Suzuka heat, to advance his morning best by eight-tenths and claim the fastest time of the second free practice.

Randy de Puniet began his first day back on his Suzuki Superbike by comparing settings used both during winter testing and the Malaysian race, last time out. Looking to improve straight-line braking performance, the Frenchman is more confident with original settings used at Jerez in January and will continue to refine these as he returns to the track tomorrow morning.

Bathed in Spanish sun throughout the day, the Jerez circuit saw Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes retain the top spot in the combined times after setting a 1’41.957 mid-way through the morning’s opening free practice.

The action returns to the Spanish track at 09:45hrs local time (08:45BST) tomorrow morning for Lowes and de Puniet’s final timed free practice, with Superpole qualifying getting underway from 15:00 (14:00BST) Saturday afternoon.

Alex Lowes:

“We had a difficult start to the day as we missed a lot of the first session, and after not riding for six-and-a-half weeks I felt a bit rusty! We are actually running a setting we have not tried in Jerez, it’s more of a similar balance to what we used in Malaysia when the conditions were warmer, and I felt really good. The bike under braking and the front end feel, for the hotter conditions, is feeling really good; it’s something we’ve struggled with in the past so I’m pleased. I really enjoyed today, I’m happy to be back on the bike and back with the lads – who are all working hard as usual – but it is only the first day and everyone is just getting up to speed. I need to continue to work really hard tomorrow and hopefully we can stay close to the front this weekend.”

Randy de Puniet:

“We started this morning with the settings from Malaysia, combined with a new brake system, but I was not confident with this and the brake power was not enough. This afternoon we returned to the settings used during the winter test and my feeling was better but I still have an issue stopping the bike, which is now our main focus – I am losing a lot of time everywhere as it is difficult for me to decelerate the bike in the way I want to. I hope we can find a solution to this tomorrow and then we can improve the lap-time a lot. I really enjoy this track and the weather is perfect, so once we can fix the brakes, we can have a good weekend.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“It is good to get back to work after the extended summer break, and the summer has certainly stayed with us here in Jerez. The track here is always very different by comparison to the winter testing and it is always difficult to know how much relevance we can place on the data collected, based on the new character of the track in the summer temperatures. We had some brake problems with Alex in the first session which took a bit of solving, and cost him some time, but aside from that the day has gone very well, with progressive improvements every time the bike has gone on track and very good performance both on used-tyres, and at the end of the session on a new tyre to top the standings. I think it’s only the second time we’ve topped a session this season, and that was in Thailand where Alex finished on the podium, so fingers crossed we can keep the momentum and aim for some positive results.

“Randy is not far away at all, exactly one second from the fastest, and has tried both winter test and the evolved settings – used last in Malaysia – so his guys will be carefully-considering the best ways forward for tomorrow and trying to find some small improvements that allow Randy to close the gap on the top 10.”

Jerez – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Free Practice Combined Times: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’14.957: 2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.024 3. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.090: 4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.099: 5. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) +0.168: 14. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.080.