A dramatic conclusion to the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Championship saw Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes both achieve a ninth-place finish each in the day’s two races at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
A relatively uneventful first race left Laverty circulating in 10th for the majority of the first-half before advancing on Honda’s Leon Haslam for ninth. With changes made to his Yoshimura-powered machine in the two-hour window, Laverty started the season’s final battle strongly. His intent to hunt down the leaders for his last podium in the Championship, however, was cut-short by a crash at turn six on the third lap, calling time early on his final outing aboard his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.
Showing impressive pace on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 as the season finale drew to a close, Alex Lowes consistently matched the lap-times of the front-running group in the late evening race. The disappointment of the previous day’s qualifying, however, impacted his race day; his ninth-place finish barely reflecting the efforts of both team and rider. A bad start to the day’s opening race had initially seen Lowes drop to 13th, but the Suzuki racer soon regrouped, closing up to his team-mate to round-out the top-10 in the last third of the race and retaining the position to the flag.
A drier but windy Losail circuit greeted the Championship for its concluding race day of the 2014 season, with the humidity dropping by almost half from Superpole’s 80% high, to a mere 47% for the opening race.
Sylvain Guintoli claimed the 2014 Superbike World Championship title by taking both race victories and granting Aprilia the Manufacturers’ silverware in the process. Althea’s Niccolò Canepa snatched race one’s EVO trophy at the line while the race-two win went to the overall EVO Class winner, Kawasaki’s David Salom.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki now returns to its UK headquarters to begin preparation for the 2015 Championship, and a week of testing scheduled at Jerez, in Spain, from November 24th with its new rider pairing of Lowes and Randy de Puniet.
“Race one was poor, I really struggled with the front tyre and ninth was all I could manage - we came strong in the second half of the race but it was too little too late. We changed to a different front tyre for the second race and the feeling was much better. I was going to be in that fight for fourth and I was desperate to cling on but I had issues with the rear-entry grip and it suddenly came around on me. It was a strange crash as I’ve never crashed like that before and it was a disappointing way to end the season.
“I was desperate to get on the podium this weekend and I was pushing for that; to try and reward the team with another podium. It hasn’t been the best of years, with just a win at Phillip Island and then a podium at Sepang, the boys deserved much more as they have been working hard. I never really like to say that our luck was out, but sometimes this year it did seem that way. Thanks to the whole team and all the sponsors for never giving-up and I’m just disappointed we couldn’t finish on a high!”
“Tenth and a ninth may not look as good on paper but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The front tyre started to cut-up with about eight laps to go in race one which made it quite hard work, so I just had to get the bike to the finish. For the second race Lez made some great changes to the bike and it felt a lot better, we tried a different front tyre that I’ve not raced all year, but once I got used to it, after the first six laps, it was probably the best I’ve ridden since Donington, so a nice way to finish the year. I was just a few seconds off the guys who finished in fourth place so I’m quite happy with that. I dug-in until the last lap of the last race of the year and it has given me a bit of confidence going forward to testing.
“Thanks to the whole team, to Suzuki, Voltcom and Yoshimura for all their hard work this year, and I’m looking forward to coming back much stronger at Phillip Island for next season.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Not the results that Crescent Racing, Suzuki, Voltcom and all our very loyal partners were looking for today, but some very encouraging signs for next season from Alex, especially in race two. He had struggled in race one, but the team made some changes to the chassis-balance for race two which clearly improved the bike. The end-result was really a residual of the qualifying crash and the poor grid-position because Alex and the GSX-R’s pace at the end of race two was good enough for fourth place, but the gap was just too far away after the initial laps. Alex has been taking a more-measured approach, and the decision making processes and consistency of pace today auger really well for 2015.
“Eugene’s season started with a win, ended with an unfortunate crash; and that reflects the inconsistency and bad luck that we have suffered over the course of the year. It’s been a pleasure having him, John and Pip as part of the team and everybody at Voltcom Crescent Suzuki wishes him all the best in his new career as a MotoGP™ rider.
“We move on to new regulations next year - which we feel will suit the GSX-R - and we begin testing very soon in Jerez with Alex and, of course, we are very excited about Randy de Puniet’s first ride with the team.”
Qatar – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race One: 1. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) 33’46.738: 2. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +2.650: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +3.955: 4. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +4.805: 5. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +7.861. 9. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +15.978. 10. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +21.456.
Qatar – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race Two: 1. Guintoli 33’41.803: 2. Rea +3.568: 3. Sykes +5.092: 4. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +8.305: 5. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +8.390. 9. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +13.478. DNF Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
World Championship Classification: 1. Guintoli 416: 2. Sykes 410: 3. Rea 334: 4. Melandri 333: 5. Baz 311: 10. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 161. 11. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 139.