Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes thrilled the home fans today with a podium in the opening eni FIM Superbike World Championship race at Donington Park in the UK; and then heroically-charged from the back of the field to a top-10 position after a crash in race two.
Lowes consolidated a quick first-race start on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 by aiming straight for the front, taking the lead before the first lap was completed - and holding it for two laps - before a battle between Kawasaki’s Loris Baz and Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli relegated him to third. Mid-race saw Lowes battling for second on a number of occasions before settling in to a rhythm; and then taking a comfortable third place.
In the second race, Lowes ran fourth for the opening laps before a coming-together with Aprilia’s Marco Melandri on lap five. He re-joined at the back of the field, and, maintaining his original pace, began the task of cutting his way through the pack. Lowes produced a stunning ride in-front of the cheering home crowd – even taking two riders at once on lap 14 - and finished the race in an impressive ninth place to score seven valuable championship points; and also setting the fastest-lap of the race (1'28.554) along with recording the highest speed-trap-time of the race (273,7kph).
Eugene Laverty had a similar battle in the day’s second outing: He fell on the same lap, just moments after his team-mate, but raced his Suzuki GSX-R1000 from 22nd to secure 13th - and three points - at the chequered flag. After a promising start, Laverty leaves Donington with little to show for the weekend’s hard work - a crash also cutting short his first race at lap five - but will re-group for the next Championship outing in Sepang in a fortnight’s time.
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes took a double victory as a rain-hit Donington Park gave way to a pleasant and sun-filled afternoon of racing for the 30,000-estimated weekend spectators.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will now look to prepare for the forthcoming flyaway race at Sepang, Malaysia, on June 8th.
“Race one was good. I struggled a bit at the end, but the start and leading my first World Superbike race was great! It’s nice for the team at the home race as well, so I’m really pleased with that. I am disappointed with the second race: The bike improved a lot and we had made some good changes; so thanks to Lez for that. I had good pace and I could’ve had another podium. I tried my best and got a ninth place, pushing really hard right to the end even though my bike was badly damaged. We’ll move on with the confidence gained this weekend as we have proved we can run at the front. My starts were better and I mixed-it-in with the top boys so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. I’ve got some solid results now and I can’t wait for Sepang!”
“The tough run continues. Race one we were looking strong but I made a mistake; through the chicane I dug my knee into the grass and it ripped me from the bike and I had a huge crash. In the second race your guess is as good as mine! I was just cruising because I needed to stay on-board to get a decent finish, and suddenly I lost the front. It’s disappointing because the potential is so good.”
Paul Denning- Team Manager:
“It’s been an impressive weekend‘s work for Alex, his crew and for the Voltcom Crescent GSX-R. The first race was exactly the right balance between pushing hard when he needed to and settling for a fantastic podium at the end of the race. Race two was a huge disappointment but a better performance in many ways: The accident was pretty-much unavoidable, and with a heavily-damaged bike - which in most circumstances a rider would call ‘unreadable’ - clawed his back from dead-last to ninth place; and even on the last-lap of the race was the fastest rider on track. Race two was a definite podium at worst and a hard fight for the win at best. It didn’t happen, but that shouldn’t detract from what was a stunning day’s work.
“The story for Eugene was very different, unfortunately. We’ve had a difficult run over the last few weeks and the potential we’ve seen in practice hasn’t translated into results. The starts weren’t a problem today; we got away and soon battled through to the front group, but mistakes in both races meant that Eugene wasn’t able to capitalise. We will go to Malaysia with the target of rebuilding Eugene’s confidence, finding the sweet-spot in the bike for him; and capitalising on the obvious potential.”
Donington – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race One: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 34’23.929; 2. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +1.538; 3. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +6.394; 4. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +11.875; 5. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +14.514. DNF: Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
Donington – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race Two: 1. Sykes 34’14.134; 2. Baz +3.678; 3. Guintoli +7.376; 4. Davide Giugliano +10.827; 5. Davies +15.140. 9. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +41.465. 13. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1’00.751.
World Championship Classification: 1. Sykes 185; 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 159; 3. Baz 159; 4. Guintoli 148; 5. Davies 109; 9. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 73; 10. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 65.