Alex Lowes secured a seventh place finish for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki in the opening World Superbike race at the Jerez circuit in Spain today.
A good start from his ninth-place grid-spot saw Lowes manoeuvre his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R into seventh by the third lap of the day's first race. Faced with a fairly solitary but strong run for the remainder of the contest, the British racer continued to hold his rhythm steady securing nine points as the chequered flag was raised.
A challenging afternoon saw Lowes pit for a new rear tyre on lap two of the second race – a switch that ultimately proved too slick as he collected a ride-through penalty for failing to meet the desired pit intervention time. However, he got back up-to-speed quickly, impressively matching the leading pace consecutively despite being placed at the back of the field. While his 18th place finish barely reflects the effort and potential on show, Lowes is pleased with the performance of himself and the GSX-R1000 and is looking forward to the season’s final European race in two weeks’ time.
Randy de Puniet concluded his first Superbike race at the Jerez circuit just shy of the points. Using race one to adapt his riding style to the bike’s character – having solved the weekend’s braking issue overnight – the Frenchman battled with the 13th place group before consolidating 16th at the line.
De Puniet’s difficult day continued into the afternoon as a technical issue affected his Suzuki GSX-R on the sighting lap for race two before he was forced to retire the bike at turn 11 of his sixth lap due to an engine issue.
The French round of the championship now beckons for the Maisons-Laffitte-born racer who is hoping for a positive weekend on home-turf.
Thoroughly enjoying their own ‘home event’, Kawasaki celebrated securing both the Rider (Jonathan Rea) and Manufacture Championship titles under Jerez’s clear blue Spanish skies, despite Rea being absent from the podium in both races. As temperatures rose from 25 to 29°C in the stands and 29 to 43°C on track, his team-mate Tom Sykes claimed victory in the opening race, while Ducati’s Chaz Davies continued his recent form to take the win in race two.
De Puniet’s home race is next on the agenda for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, as the World Championship visits Magny Cours, in France, on Sunday October 4th.
“Overall a slightly disappointing day but we had a solid seventh in race one. We made the bike better for race two and had really good pace, but unfortunately we had an issue with the tyre at the start, which if it wasn’t for this, we could have had an even stronger second race. I’m pleased with how I’ve been riding all weekend, the team have worked hard and I did the best I could for 40 laps. Unfortunately we didn’t get the results we wanted but we’ll look forward to Magny-Cours. I feel like I’m riding the best I have all season so my confidence feels good and I’m looking forward to the last two rounds of the year.”
Randy de Puniet:
“Two difficult races for me today. We fixed the problem with the brake this morning, which was good but I needed time to adapt my riding style with this. In race one the brake was consistent but I was not 100% comfortable with the bike, I was racing with the guys who finished 13th all race but unfortunately I finished 16th. In race two my bike stopped on the sighting lap so I had to push it to the grid. A weekend to forget again and I really hope for more luck in Magny-Cours for my home race.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Race two brought a disappointing end to what genuinely has been a very positive performance over the weekend here at Jerez. We’ve struggled in the past in the very hot temperatures with the GSX-R but new suspension parts this weekend and Alex improving his technique in these conditions found much more competitive pace. Alex was disappointed with seventh in the first race but it was still a very strong performance and the second race – with some changes that took the bike in the right direction – promised a top-five result. The problem causing Alex’s need to stop and change the rear tyre after only two laps was very disappointing, but we then suffered a further setback with a ride-through penalty after changing the tyre too quickly. The fact that Alex then dug in, rode to the maximum over the full course of the race, and over the last 10 laps matched the podium challengers, enables us to take some positives.
“The weekend for Randy again was difficult. Primarily we have to thank Tomo from Nissin BS for supplying a complete new braking system to try and test on Sunday which brought an immediate improvement for Randy in terms of consistency and predictability and we will use this until the end of the season. With that problem fixed, unfortunately Randy’s pace wasn’t good enough to score points in race one, despite coming close, and in race two some changes in the set-up to help him further weren’t able to be evaluated due to his technical problem on lap six.
“Many positives to take from Jerez and an equal number of disappointments, but I feel we have plenty still to prove and plenty to race for in the final two rounds of the championship.
“I would also like to send our congratulations to Suzuki and the SERT team for winning the 2015 Endurance World Championship at the Paul Ricard Circuit this afternoon with a third place finish in the Bol d’Or 24 hour race. It’s great to see Suzuki has this success in the 30th Anniversary colours while celebrating the GSX-R’s legacy and it’s nice to end the day on a positive note!”
Jerez – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race One: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 34’14.685: 2. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +2.865: 3. Michael van der Mark (Honda) +6.665: 4. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +9.059: 5. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) +9.318: 7. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) + 15.945. 16. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +40.275.
Jerez – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race Two: 1. Davies +34’29.546: 2. Jordi Torres (Aprilia) +1.840: 3. Haslam +2.335: 4. Rea +7.619: 5. Sykes +11.500. 18. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +1’37.110. DNF: Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
World Championship Classification: 1. Rea 478: 2. Davies 353: 3. Sykes 331: 4. Haslam 286: 5. Torres 210. 9. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 121. 17. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 39.