Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty will start today’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship races from the second row after securing sixth place in yesterday afternoon’s Superpole shoot-out at Jerez in Spain.
A strong start to Saturday’s action saw Laverty conclude the weekend’s free practices in fourth and second positions respectively, consolidating the previous day’s efforts and good feeling aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000. Continuing his progression into the mid-afternoon heat, the Irishman again showed promise on his race tyres before setting a 1’41.092 with qualifying rubber - the time awarding him sixth position and a second-row grid start for Sunday’s two contests.
Alex Lowes maintained his challenge to the front runners at the Cadiz circuit as fractional differences separated the times during the three excursions on track. Claiming sixth and seventh on his Yoshimura-powered machine in the opening sessions – just half a second between him and the quickest efforts - the British racer rounds-out the third row for tomorrow’s races; a late crash in the closing minutes of Superpole preventing him from advancing on his ninth-place 1’41.421 lap time.
Kawasaki’s Loris Baz collected pole position with a 1’40.298 under the 30°C Andalucian sunshine, his countryman Sylvain Barrier taking the fastest EVO position for BMW.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki returns to action at the Circuito de Jerez at 08:40hrs local time (07:40BST) tomorrow morning in preparation for the day’s two races scheduled for 10:30hrs (09:30BST) and 13:10hrs (12:10BST) respectively.
“It has been a really positive day. We got progressively faster and faster and finished the free practices in second, so on race tyres we are right at the sharp end. We know we’re not the best in qualifying, the aim was to get on the first two rows and we’re there. The GSX-R really feels like ‘my’ bike here and as my confidence grows so will the qualifying speed. We’ve got the race pace to fight at the front and that’s the important thing, so fingers crossed for a good start in the race tomorrow and I think we’ve got a chance!”
“Not the result we were looking for! Superpole obviously didn’t go to plan with my small crash at turn two but I’m actually really happy with my race pace. We are planning to make some small changes to try in the morning so I’ve got a good feeling that we should be there or thereabouts tomorrow. As always the team is working very hard and I’m pretty optimistic of what tomorrow can bring.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“We have taken good steps today compared to yesterday especially in Free Practice 4, where Eugene and Alex were the second and sixth quickest riders on race tyres. Qualifying, compared to where we have been at some tracks this year, was disappointing in terms of the grid positions but still allows us a really good shot at challenging for the top positions tomorrow. On race tyres in qualifying Eugene was again second quickest and his consistency and rhythm is outstanding. He hasn’t had the best of runs on the qualifiers this year so it takes a while to build your confidence to really use the additional grip, so all-in-all second row is a decent result.
“For Alex we have some work to do to improve the stability of the bike. It is quite a challenge to set the bike as the temperature increases throughout the day, but also for the rider to adapt to the relative lack of grip as it gets hotter and hotter. Overall, the pace is there and we’re looking forward to the races tomorrow.”
Jerez – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) 1’40.298: 2. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +0.235: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.263: 4. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +0.524: 5. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.579: 6. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.794. 9. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.123.