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Positive Pace for Lowes in Sepang Practice

Pata Yamaha_051316

Alex Lowes took his Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK YZF-R1 to fourth position in the combined times at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia today as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship completed its first free practice sessions in the tropics. Qualifying directly for Saturday’s Superpole 2 shoot-out, Lowes’ best lap – a 2’04.262 – came in the final ten minutes of the afternoon’s session, beating the darkening skies and rolling thunderstorms that threatened to interrupt proceedings.

The newly-resurfaced Sepang Circuit offered up multiple challenges to the Pata Yamaha Team as it set about data-capture and strategy management ahead of the weekend’s two 16-lap races. With grip levels changing as almost every new lap was laid down, Lowes worked through numerous settings to refine the chassis balance on his YZF-R1 with a solid plan for more of the same come tomorrow’s final practice session at 10:45 local time.

 

Saturday’s schedule sees the British rider return to the 5,543m track for the afternoon with Superpole qualifying at 13:55 before the first Sepang WorldSBK race at 16:00.

Alex Lowes
4th / 2’04.262 / 29 laps

“Our best Friday position so far this season here at Sepang, as our raw pace and direction was better than it has been for the last few Fridays. We have also highlighted some areas today that definitely need to be improved for race distance, and I need to have more confidence on corner entry, but we have a clear plan now so let’s get our heads down and see if we can improve for tomorrow. The new surface gave a really strange feeling at the start as it’s unusual to progress by over 10 seconds during the day on a dry track! The damp patches and general grip has improved but let’s see what happens tomorrow now it’s rained so heavily.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal

“We got lucky today in getting two dry sessions as the big thunderstorm and heavy rain arrived just after the chequered flag of FP2. We certainly missed Sylvain today and the additional information that he could have delivered at a track that he has gone so well at in the past, but Alex did a great job on a very tricky new surface which changed in its grip characteristic almost every outing. No mistakes, full commitment every lap and when it counted Alex put together a couple of very strong laps to get himself towards the top of the timesheets. When rear grip is good in the YZF-R1, as we have seen many times, the lap times come to the riders relatively easily – in fact they can be surprised by how fast they have gone – but we are still trying, with the help of the factory engineers who are in attendance this weekend, to find the best balance in the chassis and electronics to allow Alex to have better confidence on worn tyres. There is not much time to work on that before the first race tomorrow so it will be a case of some educated guesses, qualify as best we can and see what we can do when the lights go out tomorrow afternoon.”