Lowes leads Voltcom Crescent Suzuki WSB challenge

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes leads the team’s charge for todsy’s two eni FIM Superbike World Championship races after seizing eighth position in Saturday’s Superpole shoot-out at Magny-Cours in France.

A determined Lowes – who has consistently improved across the weekend - consolidated his third-row grid position with a 1’37.270, less-than four-tenths from the front row and is confident he can deliver in tomorrow’s two races at the Circuit de Nevers.

Eugene Laverty completes the third row, setting a 1’37.407 to claim ninth place. The Irishman struggled to fully-realise the promise shown throughout the weekend’s free practices, but is looking forward to Sunday’s battles.

A misty start delayed the morning’s proceedings at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, with the opening session seeing a 24°C cooler track than the afternoon’s Superpole. Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes recorded the circuit’s best lap to claim the pole position with a time of 1’36.366, with BMW’s Sylvain Barrier qualifying top of the EVO Class.

With considerably-cooler conditions forecast for tomorrow, Sunday’s race action gets underway at 10:30hrs local time (09:30BST) with the second outing scheduled for 13:10hrs (12:10BST).

Alex Lowes:

“Obviously my goal was to get on the first two rows of the grid. That didn’t quite happen but it was really close! If I had just gone one tenth-faster we would have been in the top-five, so we’re not too far away; now we are just trying to find that last little bit. I feel like my confidence is improving all the time, I’m enjoying riding my bike again and if I can have two solid races tomorrow I should be quite happy. We normally race a lot better than we qualify and I don’t want to be too greedy; a couple of top-sixes would be nice! Thanks to everyone for working hard on the bike, we’ve made some good improvements, a difficult free practice fourth-session; but we’ve come back well in qualifying.”

Eugene Laverty:

“Superpole was really disappointing to be on the third row. We’ve had better-pace all through practice, on used tyres as always we are fast, and then struggled for the outright lap in Superpole. It makes it difficult for us tomorrow but on race tyres as usual we are fast so we have got to try for a good start, but it’s going to be difficult from the third row.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“We’ve had a solid day today in general at Magny-Cours, with Eugene in particular very, very fast on used tyres in the final free practice session before qualifying but unfortunately for him Superpole was simply a disappointment. He couldn’t find the step in the soft tyre that he wanted. However, we still have to look at the positives in the race-pace on used tyres and irrespective of the weather tomorrow I’m sure Eugene will be somewhere very close to the front.

“Qualifying was a very good-step forward for Alex, and even though eighth position wasn’t the target, he is within less-than-a-tenth of fifth position and both factory Aprilia’s, so put in that context - it really is a very good result. Alex has been working hard all weekend with virtually no experience of the track and has done a great job so far. The lap-times are very close round here and I think there will be two very exciting races tomorrow irrespective of the weather.”

Magny-Cours– eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’36.366: 2. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +0.227: 3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +0.540: 4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.655: 5. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.818: 8. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +0.904: 9. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.041.