Voltcom Crescent Suzuki's Alex Lowes scored a stellar sixth place finish for the opening race of the World Superbike weekend at Laguna Seca in America.
A great start off the lights saw the British racer sitting sixth on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R for the initial three laps of the morning's action before a small error dropped him back slightly to eighth. Digging deep for the mid-race, Lowes increased his pace to take seventh from World Champion Sylvain Guintoli on lap 17. Lowes then closed the gap on Leon Haslam, pressing the Aprilia rider into an error and claiming sixth and 10 points at the flag.
Race two looked to be an equally strong performance for Lowes as he held seventh on lap one after another good start. However it wasn't to be, as an issue with the front tyre and an early incident on lap two brought about his eventual retirement on lap nine. Lowes leaves America 10th in the standings with 94 championship points and ready for two races in the far-east in the coming weeks.
Recovering his weekend's early form, Randy de Puniet took his Suzuki GSX-R1000 from 17th on the grid to a double 11th place finish for the day’s two races. Battling hard just outside of a top-10 position, the Frenchman collects 10 points from his American visit and is looking forward to continuing the developments made.
A mixed day of humid clouds, sunshine and the threat of rain saw lower than normal track temperatures (peaking at just 33°C) as Ducati's Chaz Davies converted his pole-sitting pace into a double race win.
As the freight is packed up to travel directly to Malaysia, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki now prepare to journey east for round 10 at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday August 2nd, while Alex Lowes flies first to Japan for the Suzuka 8-Hours World Endurance race next week.
“I felt good in race one. I made a small mistake in the first turn, but I recovered from that and it was great to race, catch and pass Sylvain and close down on Leon on the factory Aprilia. The bike felt much better than it has done recently and we made good progress over the course of the weekend. The second race I was fully fired-up for a good fight to try and get involved at the front but immediately on the first lap it felt like I had a front puncture, the bike was folding everywhere and I had no choice but to come into the pit. The bike itself felt perfect, the same as race one, but we will have to investigate the situation with the tyre. Because it was spitting with rain and the race was effectively over having come in, we threw wet tyres on just in case the rain got heavy which would have allowed us to get back involved. Unfortunately the rain didn’t come, I was out for a few laps but it was clear there was nothing more to be gained. A disappointing end to a really good weekend but the first race has set me up well for the 8-Hour next week and I will be coming back to WSBK in Sepang knowing that we can fight with the group.”
Randy de Puniet
“Two 11th places, so it’s better than the previous races, but I am a little disappointed because we started the weekend very well. I crashed in FP4 when I had a very good place and qualified 17th on the grid. To start on the sixth row here is not so easy and the feeling was not quite as it was before the crash so I tried to manage as best I could. We made some small adjustments between the two races but it was not enough. I also struggled a little for the second half of race two with the brake, race one was ok, but race two was not as easy, so we will look to improve this and a little more with the chassis for a better corner-entry feeling. Now with this base we can look to improve further at Malaysia. It’s a track I know well and enjoy, after my time in MotoGP™, so I can get into the rhythm quickly and look to have a better feeling with the GSX-R.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“As Alex said, the weekend has ended disappointingly with a strange problem with the front tyre feeling in race two, but we still have to take the positives from the improvements that have come over the course of the weekend. A far more competitive showing in race one, catching and passing Sylvain – who we have to remember is the current World Champion – and closing down the factory Aprilias shows very good progress.
“On Randy’s side, two points scoring finishes is a good step in the right direction. Less than we had hoped for after a good start on Friday but the huge crash in FP4 took the wind out of Randy’s sails a little bit and it was difficult to rebuild to the same level after that but we will look to continue the progress in Malaysia in a fortnight’s time.”
Laguna Seca – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race One: 1. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 35’15.693: 2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +1.798: 3. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +2.107: 4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +15.954: 5. Jordi Torres (Aprilia) +19.661: 6. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +24.431. 11. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +52.748.
Laguna Seca – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race Two: 1. Davies 35’13.816: 2. Sykes +1.406: 3. Rea +1.982: 4. Torres +16.551: 5. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +17.772: 11. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +56.249. DNF Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
World Championship Classification: 1. Rea 407: 2. Sykes 282: 3. Davies 263: 4. Haslam 240: 5. Torres 164. 10. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 94. 18. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 32.