A confident Alex Lowes concluded the final World Superbike pre-season test at Phillip Island in Australia today as the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki racer claimed the quickest time overall.
Continuing his stellar work from the opening day, the 24-year-old British racer preserved his place at the top of the timesheets in Tuesday's morning test, setting a 1'30.859 on his 10th lap. With the first of the 2015 race-specification Yoshimura-prepared engines fitted to his Suzuki GSX-R machine, Lowes returned to the track for the final two hour stint, undertaking a further 40 laps – bringing his total to 116 for the two days – his earlier time enough to retain him the front-running position.
Suffering from the previous day's turn 11 high-side, Randy de Puniet missed out on initial track-time to allow for scans on his tailbone and lower back. Cleared for action, and despite the pain, the Frenchman completed 15 Laps on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 before retiring for further medical intervention and is confident of his recovery for the weekend ahead.
A grey and overcast Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit greeted the World SBK riders for the second day of official testing with ambient temperatures reaching a gentle 22°C. The cooler conditions saw little change to the top five across the 48 hours as Lowes, heading two of the four sessions, retained the fastest overall times on both outings.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will continue at the Australian circuit for the remainder of the week in preparation for the first round of 2015 competition on Sunday, with the opening free practice session scheduled for 11:45hrs local time (00:45GMT) on Friday.
“We’ve had a good day and got through a detailed test programme, there’s not too much that we wanted to try that we haven’t really, so it’s been a difficult two days for the mechanics working really hard! The GSX-R is pretty good now, we’ll make a few changes over the weekend depending on the temperature and some minor things to try with electronics and the chassis but the biggest improvement still to come is from me and I know a few areas I can ride differently. I enjoyed it a lot today, did a race-run, put a lot of effort in and tried to keep within the limits. Thanks to the lads for all the hard work; hopefully we’ll keep progressing over the race weekend.”
Randy de Puniet:
“Nothing much to tell, the good news is nothing is broken but my back is very swollen. I had an examination today and everything looks ok. I tried to complete some laps this afternoon to get an idea of the feeling for Friday but it was so painful I only did 15 laps and decided to stop for medical treatment after one hour. Tomorrow and Thursday I will seek further treatment to try to reduce the pain but I’m confident that it will just get better day by day.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“This final test before the start of the 2015 Championship has been very good, and very disappointing all at the same time. For Alex, the test couldn’t have gone a lot better – even on a difficult day yesterday with some issues, he worked very calmly and ended the day fastest overall. Today, things went much smoother and Alex was again fastest and more importantly very competitive on his long runs – 31.0 on a 10-lap-old tyre is a very good sign for the races to come.
“Randy made a big effort to ride this afternoon but the pain, and the restriction in his movement, made it impossible to go fast. However, the rebuilt bike has now been tested for a few laps and everything worked well, and Randy has two full days of treatment before Friday to reduce the considerable swelling and get more movement in his lower back.
“We used our race engines this afternoon and they performed very well - thanks to Yohei and his team at Yoshimura for doing such a good job within the new regulations. The whole Crescent Racing team is gelling very well and working as a true team, with the technical staff supporting both riders wherever possible. It looks like the GSX-R still has the legs to run with the pack, so we are looking forward to the race weekend and to making a solid start to the season.”
Phillip Island – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Official Test Combined Times: 1. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 1’30.859: 2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) 1’30.880: 3. Jordi Torres (Aprilia) 1’30.971: 4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’31.075: 5. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) 1’31.102. 16. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 1’32.402.