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Voltcom Crescent Suzuki on Qatar 3rd Row

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Team Suzuki Press Office – October 17.

Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet will start the final World Superbike races of 2015 on the third row for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki after a tense Superpole at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit this evening.

A strong performance in the day’s opening session had allowed both Suzuki racers to advance directly to Superpole 2, which took to the track at a slightly delayed 21:30hrs local time (19:30BST). Lowes had put in a confident and consistent fifth place performance in the final timed free practice – completing 17 laps in the 45-minute session as he switched his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R’s settings from those used on Friday – and the British racer’s determined performance continued into the Superpole qualifier as he claimed seventh in the times with a best lap of 1’57.638, to head row three for tomorrow’s finale.

A season’s best performance saw Randy de Puniet qualify in eighth place – joining his team-mate on the third row for Sunday’s races – as he continued to develop on his impressive performance shown this weekend. The confidence found with his Suzuki GSX-R1000 allowed the Frenchman to push hard on the qualifying tyres, finishing the session less than three-tenths from the front-row times with a 1’57.644.

A change to the regular schedule saw one free practice session completed either side of the all-important Superpole qualifiers, as Tom Sykes’ 1’56.821 lap aboard his Kawasaki claimed pole position from his team-mate Jonathan Rea – both surpassing the circuit’s best lap record.

Saturday’s final track action for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki comes in the form of the later-than-normal free practice four, with both Lowes and de Puniet utilising the 30 minutes to concentrate on tyre-life ahead of the 2015 season’s two 17-lap race-conclusion tomorrow at 19:00 and 22:00hrs local time (17:00 and 20:00BST).

Alex Lowes:

“Today wasn’t bad, and we’ve made some big steps compared to yesterday. Free practice three was good – we had a totally different setting in the bike which took a bit of understanding, but honestly, I’m really disappointed to be seventh. I made some mistakes near the end of my qualifying lap, just probably pushing a little bit too hard, but we are working better today so I’m looking forward to free practice four and a couple of good races tomorrow. It’s one of those tracks where obviously the one-lap pace doesn’t have much of a bearing on the race results so we need to work hard in the next session, get a good start tomorrow and I want two top-sixes to finish the year. I would have liked to have qualified on the first two rows but that didn’t happen, but we are working well as a team, I think that was a solid job and I’m looking forward to the races.”

Randy de Puniet:

“I’m really happy! Since yesterday we have already improved a lot, the feeling is good and in qualifying I finished top-eight which is my best qualifying of the year and so close to the front row! It is the last race of the year and it is good to finish like this. The weekend is not over yet but in a good way – now FP4 is really important for us because we need to try a different setting for the race distance as we are struggling with rear-tyre-life. We know we are fast but now we need to be more consistent, maybe a little bit slower but more consistent, so FP4 will be an important session. We have many things to try but I’m confident, I’m feeling good on the bike and I’m enjoying it.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“It’s been a strange schedule today with FP3 then straight into Superpole and now we wait until almost midnight for FP4 to do some more setting work on the bikes for the races. Considering the problems we had yesterday, Alex has taken huge steps forward today. Qualifying was not a bad job at all and, as he showed in FP3, his rhythm on the race tyre looks ok – we will try to improve further in FP4.

“I’m really pleased for Randy, the weekend has gone better than any in the championship so far this year and to qualify only three-tenths off the front row is a really big step forward. Tyre-life and the rhythm over race distance is a worry but it is always a worry here. Randy has put himself in a good position to go with the faster riders and try and challenge for his best results of the year.”

Losail – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’56.821: 2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.176: 3. Xavi Fores (Ducati) +0.563: 4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.585: 5. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +0.628. 7. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.817. 8. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.823.