Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty will start his final races in the eni FIM Superbike World Championship from the third-row after qualifying in ninth place at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar .
The Irishman lines-up alongside Honda’s Jonathan Rea and Aprilia’s Marco Melandri; the Irishman had set provisional Pole earlier in the weekend, but suffered an unfortunate and mysterious electronic issue.
But, feeling confident with his Suzuki GSX-R1000 heading into Superpole 2, Alex Lowes left the box on qualifying tyres neatly behind championship-contender Sylvain Guintoli.
But for Lowes, unwanted attention from the Aprilia of Toni Elias put-paid to his hot-lap and the British racer concluded the session from the gravel-trap at turn 13; having tried to make the best of the compromised situation.
With all three qualifying free practices completed on Friday, there was only the non-timed 30-minute session to run before the real business of Superpole got underway at 21:00hrs local time. Temperatures on-and-off the track matched the previous day. However, the rising humidity played more-of-a-part as the evening’s events began.
Davide Giugliano’s time of 1’57.003 awarded him Pole-Position aboard the Ducati, while Kawasaki’s David Salom claimed the highest qualifying position in the EVO class.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will be back under the Losail floodlights at 19:00hrs local time (16:00GMT) for the first of the two races, with the 2014 Championship finale at 22:00hrs (19:00GMT).
“Free practice two was perfect and since then it has been a disaster! We had electronics problems and the bike didn’t run again in FP4 so we went into Superpole blind and I think ninth was the best we could hope for. It’s all ‘if’s and but’s’ but with the way the bike was feeling in FP2 we know how strong it could have been and that’s the bitter pill to swallow. It’s going to be hard from the third row tomorrow but I’ll try and get involved and do the best I can for Suzuki and the team!”
“I was feeling good with my two laps on the race tyre this evening. I went out on the qualifier and was in a great position behind Guintoli to aid us in setting a perfect lap, but Elias got in the middle and turned what should have been a great qualifying into a disaster. I really hope the lads don’t have too much work to do and we can come back strong for tomorrow’s races.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“From a really positive evening yesterday in Qatar to a really disappointing one tonight! The qualifying results - as has often been the case over the course of the year - don’t reflect the potential. Eugene’s FP3 technical problems unfortunately weren’t solved for FP4 and again he didn’t set a competitive lap so we were going into Qualifying cold. Operationally the bike was fine, but having missed two sessions in terms of advancing the set-up, it compromised the performance in Superpole and Eugene only went a tenth-quicker on his qualifying tyre than he did in FP2 on race rubber.
“Alex was definitely on for a second-row start but Tony Elias, a very experienced rider, completely compromised Alex’s lap and contributed to his crash. Of course Alex could have shut-off, found track-space and tried again. but the qualifying tyres here are good for one timed-lap only so he had to push-on and try to make the best of what had turned into an impossible situation.”
Qatar – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Superpole: 1. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1’57.003: 2. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +0.248: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.435: 4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +0.529: 5. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +0.800: 9. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.346: 11. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1.886.