Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes topped the times after the second day of testing at a dry Circuito de Jerez as he and team-mate Randy de Puniet continued the evaluation of their 2015 FIM World Superbike Championship challengers.
With no track action until after lunch - the damp tarmac a result of yesterday afternoon’s downpour - the two Suzuki riders got straight down to business on their Yoshimura-powered GSX-Rs as soon as the conditions allowed, with representatives from the Japanese tuning-house looking on.
Initially taking the lead on his 66th lap, Lowes was the first rider to break the 1’41 barrier - setting a 1’40.949 on a race-tyre with 15 minutes left of Tuesday’s session. The British racer was briefly dropped to second by Leon Haslam, before quickly responding with a 1’40.730 on qualifying rubber to end the day with the fastest-time overall. Having worked on engine-brake strategies throughout the afternoon’s 71 laps, Lowes is confident with the progression made so far and looking forward to tomorrow’s return to the circuit.
De Puniet continued his study of the GSX-R this afternoon focusing on the Suzuki’s electronics, suspension and gearbox. Circulating on the Pirelli race tyres for his full 57 laps, the Frenchman finished his first World Superbike test in eighth position and is reassured by the potential he has found in his machine.
Due to the challenging weather endured so far, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will now continue its testing programme into tomorrow, with track-action scheduled to resume at 10:00hrs local time (09:00GMT).
“It’s been a long day as we have had a lot of new software to try, but we have slowly plodded away and made some really good steps throughout the afternoon; which is always nice. I’m really happy with my times, on race tyres it was good and it’s also the fastest I’ve ever been round here so that’s great, but obviously it’s difficult to compare because of the track conditions. I’m really enjoying riding my GSX-R again and getting on well with all the new guys: I just need to stay patient and keep working hard so that when we get to round one we have a proper understanding of everything and we can then put it all into a race situation.”
Randy de Puniet:
“It was an interesting day because finally, around 1-1:30, we went on track, the track condition was more-or-less the same as yesterday but we were luckier as there was no more rain so we were able to ride until six. We worked a lot, adapting my riding style to the bike, working on the electronics, suspension and the gearbox, because I struggled a little bit with this, but we found a solution and I’m quite happy. I didn’t try the qualifying tyre because it was not the right moment for me; I prefer to spend more time on the track with the race tyres to understand the drop and the right settings for the race distance. Alex set very good lap times and this proves the new engine-spec is good and the bike has a really good potential so I just need to continue to work and to reduce the gap with him. I’m confident, it is only early days for me on the bike and I hope the weather will be good for the next few days to continue our work in this direction.”
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
“The team is happy with the work we have got through today, considering the limited-time with the circuit being damp this morning. Alex spent a lot of time working through a completely new engine-brake strategy - which ultimately wasn’t successful - but as a team we are very pleased that he was patient, gave the right feedback, and then when we returned to the standard strategy, was immediately competitive. The 1’40.9 on a race tyre is outstandingly-fast and then to back-that-up with a solid lap on the qualifier and end the day P1 in the first test of 2015 is very encouraging. We were competitive in the winter here last year - maybe not quite as good as today but close nonetheless - so we won’t be getting carried away! We will keep working very methodically and just try to improve all areas of the bike. The one element that is very encouraging is the 2015 engine-spec, which is giving Alex a lot of confidence for the season ahead.
“Today was Randy’s first decent dry-running on a World Superbike and he’s worked through all the normal niggles that a new rider to a new bike has; and has done a very solid job. Randy is very professional, very relaxed, and is fitting-into the team well. I have absolutely no doubt that the lap-times will improve dramatically as he gets fully-comfortable with the GSX-R, and that when it is time to push hard he will be very competitive.”