Lowes leads for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki as 2015 season begins
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes recorded the fastest overall time at Phillip Island today as the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship got underway in Australia.
Lowes set the marker early with a 1’30.855 on his third timed-lap of the opening session aboard his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki. A consistent pace during Friday’s 90-minutes of track-time allowed the British racer’s team to work through numerous setting and tyre options and, as the afternoon heat took the track temperature ever higher, Lowes continued to hold the fastest time for the remainder of the day.
With his first practice session in the World Superbike Championship underway, Randy de Puniet got up to speed quickly on his GSX-R1000. Despite his limited testing, and the accident earlier in the week still affecting his physical condition, the Frenchman ran a steady seventh for the majority of the opening 45 minute stint, ending the practice in ninth. Completing 35 laps across the two sessions, he remains within the top ten overall times and is confident with the progress made so far on his Suzuki machine.
Rising track temperatures – from 29 to 51°C by the afternoon free practice – saw only two riders within the top ten improve on their day’s best times, leaving Lowes in control at the close of play.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki completes the final session of qualifying at 09:45hrs local time tomorrow morning (22:45GMT Friday night) ahead of the afternoon’s Superpole at 15:00hrs (04:00GMT).
“The timesheets don’t tell the full story as we still have some work to do in the hotter temperatures. We were fast this morning on the cold track but it in the hot conditions there are some different requirements to make the lap-time. We tried quite a few things this afternoon, we probably also weren’t on the right tyre for the conditions and we still did a decent job, so we just need to continue moving along as we are. We have started well, the circuit is amazing and my GSX-R is just a weapon to ride around here. I’m happy enough, we’ll keep working hard tomorrow and see what it brings – step by step!”
Randy de Puniet:
“It was not easy today with my injury but I think I had a good session, even if I am not satisfied with the position and the speed. We tried different settings today but I have liked the Suzuki since the first day here so the base was always good. Tomorrow I will focus on my lap times and race tyres, because today was more about getting the feeling on the bike and my movement with the injury. Now we will take the next step, of course I still have pain but I hope that each day it will be better, but I’m happy to be here and to focus on the work ahead. As a team we have said the most important thing is to finish both races and collect the points, even if the injury means that we may not quite achieve what I was expecting to before we arrived.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“It’s been a very positive start to the 2015 Championship today. Of course being fastest overall is never a bad thing but far more important is the work we got through in both sessions, covering different chassis geometry settings, the three main tyre options and very detailed suspension work. The performance of the bikes is quite heavily affected when the track gets as hot as it did this afternoon so it was good to understand more about the direction for Sunday when it is likely to be warmer again.
“Alex has ridden flawlessly all the way through the test and again today, not pushing to the limits and keeping everything well under control. When a rider is that consistent it really allows the team to make a better job setting the bike because the differences in the settings are much clearer to understand.
“It was great to have Randy back on the bike today, he’s in a significant amount of pain and is probably going to need injections to get him through the rest of the weekend, so to have got into the 31’s and the top ten overall is a great effort and hopefully he’ll be able to take another step forward both physically, and with his potential, tomorrow.”
Phillip Island – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Free Practice Combined Times:
1. ALEX LOWES (VOLTCOM CRESCENT SUZUKI) 1’30.855: 2. Jordi Torres (Aprilia) +0.359: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.548: 4. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +0.611: 5. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.686: 10. RANDY DE PUNIET (VOLTCOM CRESCENT SUZUKI) +1.026: