Voltcom Crescent Suzuki‘s Eugene Laverty rapidly got down to business at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain today claiming sixth in the combined times at the end of the two free practice sessions; just 0.2-seconds from provisional pole.
Laverty, refreshed from the eight-weeks away, reacquainted himself quickly with his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R at the Andalucian track. Initially working on improvements made throughout the summer break, the Irishman consistently improved on his lap times as the day progressed. The culmination of his efforts was almost enough to see him on the provisional front row, his fastest time of the two sessions – a 1’42.899 set on his final revolution - being interrupted by traffic in the final sector to leave him just 0.2-off the day’s best.
Alex Lowes, building on his testing knowledge of the Jerez circuit, confidently continued his development aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000 setting a 1’43.204 as the eni FIM Superbike World Championship announced its return in dramatic style with the top 11 riders separated by less than 0.6 seconds at the close of play.
With the southern Spanish sun bathing the Circuito de Jerez, the asphalt registered 58°C for the afternoon session, a balmy 29°C high greeting the enthusiastic fans.
Kawasaki’s Loris Baz topped the times with a 1’42.677 with the manufacturer’s satellite Pedercini rider Alessandro Andreozzi claiming the fastest EVO.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki is on track at 09:45hrs local time (08:45BST) tomorrow for the final timed-for-qualifying free practice session ahead of Superpole scheduled for 15:00hrs (14:00BST).
“It’s nice to be back at a race weekend again after so long away! Like we thought, it’s hot and slippery and it’s suiting my riding style and the bike - we’re right at the sharp end! There’s nothing in-it between the front guys. It’s also good to see that we are able to use our new tyre; this year we haven’t been able to so I’m hoping in Superpole that we can qualify on those front two rows and be there at the beginning of the race on Sunday!”
“The times are really close! I tried really hard in the second session and completed two-or-three-more laps compared to everyone else. It’s disappointing when you don’t make big improvements throughout the day but looking through the data we are going to make some good changes for tomorrow. It’s really good to be back on the bike after the long break, we’re only half a second off; and I feel like I’m riding well so hopefully with the changes tomorrow should be good.”
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
“Jerez is a very different circuit in the summer than in the winter test months and the 50°C track temperatures make it very difficult to replicate the same amount of grip and lap time that we can generate in the winter. Therefore it is always a balance to understand how much information from the winter test is relevant because really the race track has a completely different character. None of the riders seemed to have suffered from the long summer break as within two 45 minute sessions the top 11 are all within 0.5-of-a-second and as ever those very small differences will make a big difference in the result come qualifying tomorrow afternoon and the races on Sunday.
"Both Eugene and Alex are performing well. Eugene really should have been P1 today if he hadn’t been held-up in the last sector of his last lap and Alex, whilst the position isn’t what he wants, is only half-a-second away with some fairly big adjustments to come, to make his job a lot easier for the rest of the weekend.”
Jerez – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Free Practice Combined Times: 1.Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1’42.677; 2. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +0.091; 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.136; 4. Leon Haslam (Honda) +0.204; 5. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) + 0.219; 6. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.222. 11. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.527.