Alex Lowes fought a determined race to take 10th on his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki in the second outing at the Imola Circuit today for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship Acerbis round in Italy.
A good start looked to have given Lowes what he needed to battle his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R in the top-10, before he was caught in the crash of Honda's Sylvain Guintoli, relegating him to the back of the field. His determination was as resolute as ever and the British racer began his comeback, fighting his way through to 11th by lap nine to join the top-10 for the final five laps.
The morning race had seen a similarly good start from Lowes, keeping him in the mid-pack before running wide at turn six on the first lap. Regrouping in 16th to continue the fight, the red flag came out on the ninth lap after a turn 15 crash from Kawasaki's David Salom. A six-lap sprint race concluded the morning's action as Lowes, taking to the grid in 13th, crossed the line in 12th, collecting 10 points from the day’s two races.
Continuing to struggle with confidence in the new electronic control systems, Randy de Puniet retired his Suzuki GSX-R1000 from both races having completed four laps of each, leaving him in 19th place in the Championship.
The weekend's 65,000 strong Italian crowd witnessed the British domination of the WSBK Championship continue under cloudless skies, as Kawasaki's Jonathan Rea took victory in both races from his team-mate Tom Sykes, the two riders each collecting a fastest-lap award in the process.
The home race, for both Voltcom Crescent Suzuki and Alex Lowes, now beckons as the team returns to the UK in preparation for Donington Park in just two weeks’ time on Sunday May 24th.
“A difficult day but I tried my best in both races. It’s frustrating that we haven’t made more improvements but we’re that far into it now that we just have to keep going, keep our heads down, work as hard as we can and see if we can go better at Donington. Obviously I will have the advantage that I know the track and I think it will be less critical on the electronics so I’m looking forward to Donington already. You have two choices when things aren’t going your way, you either give in or you keep working, keep doing your best, keep trying to improve the bike and see what happens, so that’s what we’re doing!”
Randy de Puniet:
“I’m very disappointed as Imola was another bad weekend for me. We are still struggling to find the correct base-setting for the electronics system and it has now affected three race weekends. I really hope we can find the solution at Donington so we can start building our season from there.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“A very challenging day at the office. The whole Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team could not be working harder to find the correct solutions – from tyre technicians to crew chiefs, everybody is giving 100%. The biggest frustration is that the very clear results of our testing after Assen did not translate at all to the Imola Circuit. If a bike has issues with throttle connection, driveability and engine brake control, these issues will be multiplied at Imola due to the very technical layout of the track and that’s exactly what happened. Equally, when the focus is on these fundamental problems, normal chassis setting work takes a back seat and the overall bike performance doesn’t progress as it should.
“Again, Alex simply did all we could ask of him and rode really well to score good points. He has continued to apply himself in a difficult situation, and to set his best lap time of the day on the final lap of race two shows his commitment to the very end. His efforts and natural speed indicate that we will be straight back into a stronger position when the fundamental problems are solved.”
Imola – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race One: 1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) 10’43.252: 2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +0.482: 3. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +3.945: 4. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +7.455: 5. Sylvain Guintoli (Honda) +11.925. 12. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +21.123. DNF Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
Imola – eni FIM World Superbike Championship – Race Two: 1. Rea 34’06.825: 2. Sykes +4.399: 3. Jordi Torres (Aprilia) +26.020: 4. Giugliano +30.853: 5.Ayrton Badovini (BMW) +35.379. 10. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +56.990. DNF Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
World Championship Classification: 1. Rea 240: 2. Haslam 153: 3. Sykes 128: 4. Davies 123: 5. Torres 99. 10. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 51. 19. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 15.