Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty raced to a hard-fought-for seventh-position in today’s first race of the eni FIM Superbike World Superbike Championship fourth round at Imola in Italy.
Laverty struggled to adapt his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 to suit his style at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, but salvaged seventh place in the opening race after running a somewhat solitary, yet consistent pace, for the 19-lap duration. The Irishman also looked to be set for a similar placing in the afternoon’s second race, before succumbing to ninth.
Despite the setback of missing yesterday’s Superpole, Alex Lowes’ encouraging form continued in both of today’s races: A strong start on his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 allowed the British racer to advance two places in the morning’s opening lap – and then progress further due to a move on Leon Haslam and a fall from Davide Giugliano - to claim eighth at the flag. The second race looked even-more promising; matching his first-race position before the half-way stage when a mistake while attempting a move on his team-mate resulted in a trip to the gravel at turn 18, and a loss of five places. Lowes, however, regrouped and began hunting-down the pack in front to take 10th with four laps remaining; his consistent pace and confidence on the bike deserving more-than the time-sheets reflected.
Honda’s Jonathan Rea dominated the event, taking a double-win, while the intermittent cloud left track temperatures pushing 10°C above the day’s 23°C high; the threat of rain dissipating as the second race began.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will now remain at Imola to participate in official championship testing tomorrow, with a full day of activity from 09:00hrs local time, before returning to its UK base in preparation for the team’s home race at Donington Park in a fortnight’s time.
“A tough day and disappointing for both me and the team. We have a new strategy to work on tomorrow, to help our engine braking, which should be a good-step and this is probably the best track to try it. The problem was highlighted so badly here that if we are going to improve it anywhere it’s going to be here. On to Donington and I’m determined to get back to the front group.”
The results weren’t great but today was a good race! I tried hard in the second race; I pushed right to the end. I ran off the track trying to pass Eugene, just locked the front and had to take to the gravel, which wasn’t great. I lost 13 seconds, so if it wasn’t for that I could have had a decent result but I tried my best and I’m going to keep on improving. I’m enjoying being in the Championship and I’m starting to understand the GSX-R a lot more. Now we can concentrate on the test and getting ready for the home race at Donington!”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“A tough weekend didn’t get a lot easier on race day here at Imola. Particularly for Eugene, we just didn’t find anything close to the right combination to allow him to ride as we know he can; two frustrating races for him and not too-many positives to draw from them. For Alex the story is a little bit different: He reacted superbly and really supported the team when we had to withdraw the bike from Superpole qualifying yesterday; which obviously cost him some track time and a better grid position. In the races he found further improvements, especially for race two, where the time sheets show that if he hadn’t run off the track and lost 12 seconds, he would have finished in sixth place. He has learnt a good amount over the course of the weekend and probably the most important day for us now will be tomorrow. We hope the weather will be kind and we get to run through some important changes and some important test items to get back to where we know the GSX-R can be!”
Imola – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race One: 1. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 34’14.829: 2. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +4.511: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +6.492: 4. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +8.434: 5. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +9.134. 7. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +19.973 8. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +21.582.
Imola – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race Two: 1. Rea (Honda) 34’14.255: 2. Davies (Ducati) +4.095: 3. Guintoli (Aprilia) +5.546: 4. Baz (Kawasaki) +6.285: 5. Sykes (Kawasaki) +7.147: 9. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +26.306. 10. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +33.046.