Randy de Puniet concluded his final race as part of the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team by matching his season’s best performance, from Phillip Island, with a seventh place finish in race two at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit this evening.
Continuing the strong form shown throughout the Qatar weekend, de Puniet rode an impressive race aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to close his 2015 rookie World Superbike campaign. Elevated to seventh on the grid, the Frenchman held his position for the duration of the second race, despite the challenge from the group around him, to take nine championship points. The opening contest began in a similar vein as he maintained his top-ten position from the outset. Battling with a five-strong group for eighth, he eventually dropped to 12th with three laps to go to collect four points at the flag leaving his season tally at 52 and in 18th position overall.
A blistering start to the first race of the night had seen Alex Lowes battle to a podium position – which would also match his season's best – to take third from Chaz Davies on lap four while holding off the charging three riders behind him for the next three laps. Unfortunately, the British racer was forced to retire his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R on lap seven with an engine problem. The bad luck continued into the final race of the year as Lowes brought his GSX-R into the pits after the sighting lap, failing to re-join the grid as the lights went out and bringing his season to an early close. Lowes concludes his second year 10th in the championship standings with 135 points.
2015’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship concluded under the Losail floodlights with Aprilia’s Jordi Torres and Leon Haslam taking the top step for one race each as the desert temperatures still registered 34°C on track despite the late night schedule.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki would like to thank Lowes, de Puniet and the entire WSBK team for their hard work and determination this season, Suzuki Motor Corporation and Yoshimura Japan for their valued partnership and all our partners for their unwavering support.
“Thank you to the whole Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team for all their hard work and everyone at Suzuki and Yoshimura for their support over the last two years. It’s such a disappointing way to end the season as we had made a huge step yesterday and an even bigger one today, after a difficult day on Friday. We were fourth in warm-up and sitting third in the first race and I felt comfortable enough with the bike to fight with the riders around me when the bike stopped. We changed the engine for race two but unbelievably on the warm-up lap it tightened up and I had to pull into pit-lane. It couldn’t be a more disappointing way to end the year but I have learned a lot and I am riding well.”
Randy de Puniet:
“I’m very happy to finish the year like that because it was a really difficult season. Race one I was fighting for eighth four laps before the end but I struggled with engine brake and the front tyre-life, so I finished 12th. Race two we made some adjustment with the engine brake and this was better, helped me to stop the bike better so I wasn’t pushing so much with the front tyre, my start was good and I finished seventh. It’s good, it was my best result since Phillip Island so I’m happy to finish on a good point. Thanks to all the guys in the team this year, it was not so easy for everyone so to finish a race like this is good for us all.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager:
“Randy did a good job today, as he has done all weekend. No mistakes, good consistent pace and was rewarded with equalling his best result of the year with seventh in the last race of the season. Randy has been a very nice person to work with all year, it has not been as successful as either of us had hoped but he has been very professional, and we wish him all the best for the future in his career and in life in general.
“On the other side of the garage the evening and the season couldn’t have ended with a more disappointing atmosphere. Alex was quick in qualifying, flying in warm-up and in the race had gone from seventh to third – and most importantly looked comfortable fighting with Davies and the Aprilias – so to go out with engine problem was obviously a huge disappointment. The engine was changed but we suffered a technical failure of exactly the same sort on the warm-up lap of the second race. Alex deserved a lot better, the team after their efforts all season deserved better and we can only apologise to Alex for tonight and thank him for his unwavering efforts to be as competitive as possible at all times.
“Finally at Crescent’s last race with the Suzuki GSX-R, I would just like to say a huge and personal thank you to everyone at Suzuki Motor Corporation Japan, Suzuki’s distributors across Europe, the US and the rest of the world. Our colleagues at Suzuki have become friends and I wish we could have given them a more successful finale to 2015.”
Losail – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race One: 1. Jordi Torres (Aprilia) 33’40.883: 2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) +0.726: 3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +6.579: 4. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +7.889: 5. Michael van der Mark (Honda) +13.512. 12. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +34.064 Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) DNF.
Losail – eni FIM Superbike World Championship – Race Two: 1. Leon Haslam (Aprilia) 33’45.745: 2. Davies +0.110: 3. Sykes +0.388: 4. van der Mark +7.653: 5. Sylvain Guintoli (Honda) +14.487. 7. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) +22.468. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) DNF.
World Championship Classification: 1. Rea 548: 2. Davies 416: 3. Sykes 399: 4. Haslam 332: 5. Torres 247. 10. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 135. 18. Randy de Puniet (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 52.