Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team begins its Championship preparations in earnest this week with two back-to-back tests scheduled in the Iberian Peninsula before the opening round of the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship in a little over a month’s time.
Randy de Puniet and Alex Lowes’ first port-of-call for the two-day tests aboard their Yoshimura-powered GSX-Rs is Portugal’s 4,592m Autódromo Internacional do Algarve: Located 20km to the north-west of Portimao, the circuit is a favourite of Lowes - after his impressive rookie performances in last season’s January tests and July races. De Puniet is yet to experience ‘the rollercoaster’ layout, despite his 15-year top-flight career, and is eager to acquaint himself with the Portuguese track while gaining more all-important time on his new Suzuki Superbike.
A ‘short’ 350km drive will take the team to its second testing location, the Circuito de Jerez, on Spain’s south-westerly coast. The 4,423m track played host to the majority of the Championship just two months ago, for the last pre-season outing ahead of the winter test ban, and the recently gathered data will provide the benchmark for the continued improvement to Lowes and de Puniet’s 2015-spec machines.
Crescent Suzuki is scheduled to be on track at Portimao from 09:00hrs-17:00hrs GMT Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd January with Jerez hosting the action from 10:00hrs-18:00hrs local time (09:00-17:00GMT) on Monday 26th-Tuesday 27th January.
“I’m really looking forward to going testing. We had a great end to last year so my confidence is good. It’s been a nice, steady winter - training and preparing - but I’ve missed riding my bike so I’m ready to get back out on track. Portimao and Jerez are good circuits, both for me and for the Suzuki GSX-R, and are great fun to ride. I don’t want to get too carried away in testing, we went very well last year but it didn’t set me up well for the opening race, so I’m definitely a lot calmer now! I’ve been thinking about a number of things over the winter so I’m just looking forward to getting back out there, working hard and putting them into practise. We have a number of items to test but my main focus is myself, and making sure I’m up-to-speed, calm and ready to start the season strongly for the first race at Phillip Island.
Randy de Puniet:
“These tests will be very important, especially for me in Portimao as it will be my first time at this track; it is only for two-days but I have a lot to learn. It was good to be in Jerez two months ago to discover the new bike and the new engine specification; we worked well there and left with a good feeling so I am confident ahead of the next test.
“In Portimao I will try to learn the track quickly so I can work to adapt the bike for my riding style at this circuit. Returning to Jerez will be interesting to see if we can continue to improve the bike and if we have the same feeling after the winter break. I’m quite confident because the feeling and the base-setting we left there with in November was quite good. The bike will be more-or-less the same as the 2015-spec GSX-R I tested on my last day; my aim now is to get as much time on the bike as possible and to run race-simulation. I was fast on the qualifying tyre last-time-out and I would like to improve on this as well as my times on the race tyre. I think the key will be to focus on the set-up for when the rear tyre begins to drop.
“I have spent the winter training, both in the mountains, at home and while on holiday, so I am very ready to ride. After the test I will continued to train for a further week at home before flying to Malaysia for the MotoGP test. It is a busy off-season for me, but it will be good to ride the GP bike as one last training session before arriving at Phillip Island for the first race of the SBK season.”