Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes proved his championship-winning pedigree today by securing his first eni FIM Superbike World Championship podium with second place in the afternoon’s rain hit race two at the Assen TT Circuit in the Netherlands.
Lowes, starting from ninth on the grid, battled hard on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R to challenge the front runners, claiming second place on his fourth lap, and setting the first of his three fastest laps of the race. The British rider seemed unperturbed by the afternoon’s two restarts due to the forecasted heavy rain as he continued to hunt-down eventual winner, Honda’s Jonathan Rea. Closing the gap to the front, the Englishman set two further stunning laps, securing the Pirelli Fastest lap award with a 1’52.975 on his penultimate revolution, to claim his debut podium on only his third weekend on the world stage.
Lowes had previously mastered his best result of the championship so far with a ninth-placed finish in race one: battling with a number of riders, the rookie set his personal fastest time on the 12th lap before the race was prematurely ended on a red flag at lap 17, seeing Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli victorious.
Suffering from the misfortunes of the previous day’s Superpole, Eugene Laverty had a race weekend to forget despite the promising form shown in the opening two days aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000. With two difficult starts he rode hard to regain places, recording the highest speed of the weekend of 291.7km/h during race one, but ultimately succumbed to the conditions, crashing out of both races.
A tumultuous day, the morning’s race was run in a cool and dry 15°C but the afternoon soon gave way to torrential rain resulting in an hour-long delay, before the final restart and 10-lap race got underway two hours later than scheduled.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki returns to its UK headquarters with a raft of information and confidence ahead of the fourth round of the championship’s visit to Imola in Italy in a fortnight’s time.
“It’s fantastic; it was a great race for me and it’s really good for the team for me to finally get on the podium! It was a wet race, so it’s never as nice as getting on the podium in the dry but I’m very happy and hopefully this can kick-start our season after the injuries. It’s been a really difficult start to the year for me and now I’ve got some good points on the board and a podium, I’m looking forward to hopefully improving both myself and the bike; and seeing if we can be a bit closer to the front in the dry!”
“We had a bad start in the first race but we had a strong pace; it was a clear 11 points so I’m really angry that I threw those away. The second race I just had a terrible feeling with the bike; after we went off-the-line I just had absolutely no rear grip and it was a crash waiting to happen! With three laps to go I thought ‘I’ve stayed on this far’ and then suddenly I did a 180 and I was in the air: A terrible day, two non-finishes is a big disaster. This was a track where I felt we could be strong - Friday and Saturday we were - so to leave with no points is a big disappointment.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“The obvious highlight of a tricky race day here at Assen was Alex’s superb ride to second this afternoon. The team made some very positive changes for the wet conditions after the stoppage and allowed Alex to ride to his full potential. To come from 10th on the first lap to nearly being in a winning position at the end and to secure the fastest-lap of the race against this level of competition was a stunning effort and should give Alex renewed confidence as we go to Imola.
“Today has been very cruel to Eugene’s championship aspirations, especially after such a positive performance from him and the bike during Friday and Saturday, and a genuine feeling by rider and team that it was a race that we could challenge to win. Things really went wrong in Superpole when the rain interrupted things for both riders, but for Eugene, the grid position - combined with very poor starts - added a lot of pressure and we can just be thankful that he is completely fit, as obviously with two accidents it can always be much worse.”
Assen – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race One: 1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 25’56.636: 2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +1.259: 3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +4.116: 4. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +4.459: 5. Toni Elias (Aprilia) +23.728. 9. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +27.971: DNF. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
Assen – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race Two: 1. Rea (Honda) 19’09.464: 2. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +2.222: 3. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +4.955: 4. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +13.089: 5. Leon Haslam (Honda) +13.639. DNF. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).