Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes put on a display of determination to finish fourth in the eni FIM Superbike World Championship’s race two at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal today.
The British racer got-off to a tricky start for the shortened 18-lap contest, from 11th on the grid, spinning off the line in the wet conditions and arrived 13th into the opening corners. Head down, Lowes put his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 to work, closing on the nearest riders to claim ninth by the second lap. As the rain abated and the lap-times quickened he continued his charge: Lap 12 saw both Aprilia's ahead of him collide, promoting Lowes to sixth and in-the-mix of a four-bike-pack challenging for third. Bettering three riders on lap 15 he took a chance at the podium before a slight mistake saw him briefly back in fifth. He repeated the move on Honda’s Leon Haslam on the penultimate lap and brought his Suzuki across the line for a well-deserved fourth place.
A similar determination delivered Lowes 10 points and a sixth-placed finish in the day's opening dry race. A great start saw him jump four places in the initial sector, holding seventh before dropping to 10th for the first half of the 20-lap race. Advancing to eighth after a two-rider tussle on lap 11 as the white flags were waved, Lowes capitalised on an opportunity largely created by backmarkers to take sixth on his approach to the chequered flag.
Eugene Laverty leaves Portugal eighth in the championship after finishing eighth and ninth in this afternoon’s two races. It was a disappointing conclusion to his impressive weekend-showing, as the Irishman looked to be bringing home a top-six finish on his Suzuki GSX-R in the midday contest, before a tangle with the backmarkers on the final stretch of the last lap cost him two positions.
As the rain enveloped the Portimao circuit for the final race of the day, Laverty struggled to retain his earlier position. He dropped to 13th after a difficult start, but improved to set his fastest lap of the race on the penultimate revolution, consolidating ninth position at the line.
A grey and overcast race day greeted fans at the Algarve circuit as the brooding clouds brought the rain in time for the second race, despite the pleasant 21°C temperatures. Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes and David Salom took the spoils for the two classes in the opening contest, while Honda’s Jonathan Rea was dominant in the second outing; BMW’s Sylvain Barrier claiming the late afternoon’s EVO victory.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki now prepares for its return to the United States and the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as the Championship’s ninth round visits California on the July 13th.
“After crashing yesterday in qualifying and being on the fourth row I’m quite happy with two solid top-six results. In the second race if I hadn’t made a little error I could have been on for a podium but I’m happy to come from where I started and to get fourth. We learnt some more about the GSX-R today - we now know where we still need to improve and also have some proof on where it is working well - which can help us to keep moving forward. I really want to say thanks to the whole team, they were in the garage until 1:30am last night fixing the bike after my crash yesterday; it would have been really nice to reward them with a podium so I’m sorry about that, but I’m now looking forward to next week. I can’t wait for Laguna; it’s another new track, but it’s tight and twisty so it should suit us well.”
“We were top-four in every session apart from the three that mattered, Superpole and the two races! I’m very disappointed with race one, it was drizzling with rain and I was too scared to take risks and ended up in a low position. I lost two places on the last lap due to backmarkers but whether it was sixth or eighth, for me it wasn’t a good race. In the second race I didn’t have any feeling at all in the beginning, it came better in the end but it was too little… too late, so it was a poor day. We really had pace for the podium here so to walk away with an eighth and a ninth is not what we hoped for.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Mixed emotions and mixed results sum-up the team’s day at Portimao. We had a strong feeling that both riders could be competitive in the dry but in the first race we couldn’t make the lap-time needed with the new tyre compared to the excellent times we made in warm-up this morning, which was strange because the fuel load, track temperature and weather conditions were identical; as it has been all year understanding. How to make the bike to work well in the early laps is pivotal to the end result.
“Both Eugene and Alex had very strong pace towards the end of race one but by then it was too late and the fight for the podium is gone. The second wet race was a surprise after the beautiful weather we’ve had all weekend but a stunning performance from Alex from 13th on the first lap through to fourth and to get that close to the front-runners and to the podium was a brilliant ride. Eugene’s wet race was very strange, much further off the pace than he would want to be in the first half of the race due to a lack of feel and confidence on corner entry but stunning pace and the fourth-fastest lap overall as the race went on. Wet or dry we need to improve qualifying and improve our pace in the early laps; the answers aren’t clear how to do this but the team will keep working hard to fulfil our potential.”
Portimao – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race One: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 34’45.568: 2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +2.539: 3. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +3.175: 4. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +4.042: 5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +7.791: 6. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +14.772. 8. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +14.941.
Portimao – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race Two: 1. Rea 34’55.154: 2. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +6.817: 3. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +8.676: 4. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +9.740: 5. Leon Haslam (Honda) +11.289. 9. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +26.406.