Voltcom Crescent Suzuki is at full strength as the team heads for southern Europe this week to conduct the valuable first pre-season testing of 2014 in readiness for this year’s eni FIM Superbike World Championship, with new signings Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes eager to get down to work.

A new year, new rules and a new-look team finds the UK-based outfit immersed in preparations before travelling to Almeria in Spain and on to Portimao in Portugal as the pre-season testing window opens ahead of the first round of competition in a few weeks’ time. New racers Laverty and Lowes will take to the southern Spanish track for two-days before travelling to the Portuguese circuit for a further two-days on-board the Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-Rs. As a championship rookie, Lowes is new to both tracks, while 2013 runner-up Laverty has knowledge of both, coaching at Almeria in 2009 and standing on the podium four times at Portimao; three of which were victorious on the top step.

Almeria is the first port of call for the shakedown tests, on January 16th and 17th. The challenging clockwise 4,025m-long circuit comprises 14 corners, a chicane and high-speed back straight, affording ample opportunity to trial the Suzuki GSX-R1000 and further develop the team’s progress and synergy found at Jerez in November. A championship regular since 2008, modern Portimao is a 4,592m-long, undulating track and has been described as both a roller-coaster and a favourite by many riders. The 15 corners, changes of direction, blind crests and high-speed final straight will provide a demanding test for both rider and machine.

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will complete testing at Portimao on January 19th and 20th before returning to their UK headquarters for final preparations ahead of the official World Superbike pre-season test and first scheduled race event at Phillip Island, Australia on February 23rd.

Eugene Laverty: “The winter break was welcome following a hectic 2013 season, but now I’m itching to get going again. We had a quite tough debut test in November and so our aim at the upcoming tests is to be nearer the sharp end. My focus will be on improving our electronics package and traction control in particular. We’ll begin in Almeria before moving on to Portimao where we’ll face our rivals on a track where I’ve won during the past two seasons and that should give us an idea of where we’re at. The team have been working flat out lately and they’ve done a fantastic job to deliver updates in a short space of time. I can’t wait to get back to work on track in a few days’ time.”

Alex Lowes: “I’m really looking forward to getting back on the bike after the winter break and working with the team to build on the progress we made at the end of last year. I really like the Voltcom Suzuki GSX-R and enjoyed it the first time I rode it. I cannot wait to start riding again and begin work in 2014. I feel comfortable already on the bike and the chassis works very well. The electronics are all new to me, because in BSB there are none and I need to continue to change my style to get the best out of the Suzuki. I know there is a lot to learn, but I’m ready for the challenge.”

WSBK, WSS and STK Private Tests

AIA, Portimao (Portugal) January 2014

Day 16-18
Pata Honda: Rea, Haslam; vd Mark, Zanetti
Ten Kate Racing Products: Praia (STK tester)

Day 18-20
Aprilia: Melandri, Hofmann (tester)

Day 19-20
PTR Honda: Kennedy, Perez; Ratthapark
MV Augusta YMS: Corti; Cluzel, Leonov
Voltcom Suzuki: Laverty, A. Lowes
Mahi Kawasaki: Foret (TBC); Sofuoglu
DMC Lorenzini: Coughlan, Ivanov

Day 17-20
Ducati: Giugliano, Davies

Circuito de Almeria (Spain) January 2014

Day 16-17
Kawasaki Racing Team: Sykes, Baz; D. Salom (EVO tester)
Voltcom Suzuki: Laverty, A. Lowes
Team Puccetti: Tamburini (until Jan, 21st)

Circuito de Jerez (Spain) February 2014

Day 5-6
Kawasaki Racing Team: Sykes, Baz; D. Salom (EVO tester)
Pata Honda: Rea, Haslam; vd Mark, Zanetti
Team Pedercini: Andreozzi (EVO), Aitchison (EVO tester TBC); Savadori, Lanousse, Nemeth (STK)

Suzuki WSBK testing at Almeria
Suzuki WSBK testing at Almeria