WSBK Jerez Test Day Two
Briton Alex Lowes has kickstarted his world superbike ‘winter’ test program in strong fashion by setting the fastest time in a two-day test session at Jerez in Spain.
With most of the factory teams in attendance after a big shake-up in the rider ranks over the off-season, Lowes took his Crescent Suzuki to a best lap of 1min40.730secs in the rain-hampered test, ahead of 2013 world champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team , 1:40.853) and Leon Haslam (Red Devils Aprilia, 1:40.865).
“We have had a lot of new software to try, but we have slowly plodded away and made some really good steps,” said Lowes. “I’m really happy with my times, on race tyres it was good and it’s also the fastest I’ve ever been round here so that’s great, but obviously it’s difficult to compare because of the track conditions.
“I’m really enjoying riding my GSX-R again and getting on well with all the new guys: I just need to stay patient and keep working hard so that when we get to round one we have a proper understanding of everything and we can then put it all into a race situation.”
Of the riders in action at Jerez, Lowes and Sykes are the only ones who have recommitted with the same teams in 2015, while the likes of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), world champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda), Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda) and Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Crescent Suzuki) continued to assimilate in their new environments.
Rea (1:41.127) was fourth fastest behind Haslam, followed by Michel Fabrizio (1:41.384) helping out at Red Devils Aprilia alongside Haslam. Red Devils is the new factory satellite team for Aprilia, which won the 2014 championship with Guintoli.
Guintoli (1:41.639) – the first world champion to defend the WSBK title on a different brand — was sixth fastest ahead of his teammate van der Mark (1:41.651), the reigning world supersport champion and Suzuka 8-Hour winner moving up into the world superbike ranks in 2015. De Puniet (1:42.938) was a little off the pace, but the Frenchman is expected to be at the pointy end when the 2015 championship commences at Phillip Island from February 20-22.
The new Althea Ducati pairing of Nico Terol and Matteo Baiocco was also testing at Jerez, but no times were released, while the factory Ducati team of Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano wasn’t in attendance.
Meanwhile, it’s been announced overnight that Italian Ayrton Badovini will be the second rider in the new JR BMW team featuring former Aussie world champion Troy Corser as sporting director. Spaniard Toni Elias is the other rider, with the pair to campaign the updated BMW S 1000 RR, while Haslam will also have a revamped Aprilia RSV4 RR at his disposal.
In 2015, the entire world superbike field will be racing under standardised ‘EVO’ rules, which will combine Superbike class chassis with Superstock spec engines — as well as cutting costs and increasing participation levels.
Lap times, based on some early EVO adopters, will virtually be identical to the full-spec superbikes, and the racing is expected to be even closer than ever – as well as providing an easier route into the world championship scene for national-level riders, either as a wildcard or as a permanent entry.
The Phillip Island world superbike round is a three-day event, kicking off Friday morning with racing till Sunday late featuring world championship classes of World Superbike and World Supersport and a host of national support classes include Superbike, Supersport and Moto3/ 125GP.
Early purchasers are treated to a super-priced superbike deal, so book now for the best value. A three day pass is $110 or Sunday only just $75, and cart along the kids, because 15 and unders are free.
If you want to splash out a little, go for a Bar SBK pass at $250* for three days and have access to three premium, undercover viewing locations at Doohan Corner, Siberia and Lukey Heights.
Watch the World Super show trackside, and for an easy, super economical weekend, sleep there as well! The circuit campground is situated just above Southern Loop, with incredible views from Turn Two to Stoner Corner and out to Bass Strait. Sleep-in every morning, wake to the sound of tweeting birds, have your first coffee of the day overlooking the high horsepower vista, and still be trackside early – with no traffic hassles – for the first crack of the engines.
Get into the Superbike spirit and bring your prized bike, because at the World Supers, your very own set of wheels is more than welcome trackside. Cruise the spectator areas, find a favourite spot, park your machine and sit back and enjoy summer at the supers island-style.
World Superbike is February’s hottest high speed date and a great Christmas gift idea for the bike lovers in your life. Go to www.worldsbk.com.au or call the SBK toll free hotline on 1 300 728 007 – *plus processing fee – offer valid to Wednesday February 18 at 2pm AEST
Day 2, Jerez WSBK Test
- Alex Lowes 1’40.730
- Tom Sykes 1’40.853
- Leon Haslam 1’40.865
- Jonathan Rea 1’41.127
- Michel Fabrizio 1’41.384
- Sylvain Guintoli 1’41.639
- Michael van der Mark 1’42.651
- Randy De Puniet 1’42.938
- Kenan Sofuoglu (WSS) 1’43.730
- Raffaele De Rosa (STK) 1’44.920
- Luca Salvadori (STK) 1’45.985
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki Report
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes topped the times after the second day of testing at a dry Circuito de Jerez as he and team-mate Randy de Puniet continued the evaluation of their 2015 FIM World Superbike Championship challengers.
With no track action until after lunch – the damp tarmac a result of yesterday afternoon’s downpour – the two Suzuki riders got straight down to business on their Yoshimura-powered GSX-Rs as soon as the conditions allowed, with representatives from the Japanese tuning-house looking on.
Initially taking the lead on his 66th lap, Lowes was the first rider to break the 1’41 barrier – setting a 1’40.949 on a race-tyre with 15 minutes left of Tuesday’s session. The British racer was briefly dropped to second by Leon Haslam, before quickly responding with a 1’40.730 on qualifying rubber to end the day with the fastest-time overall. Having worked on engine-brake strategies throughout the afternoon’s 71 laps, Lowes is confident with the progression made so far and looking forward to tomorrow’s return to the circuit.
De Puniet continued his study of the GSX-R this afternoon focusing on the Suzuki’s electronics, suspension and gearbox. Circulating on the Pirelli race tyres for his full 57 laps, the Frenchman finished his first World Superbike test in eighth position and is reassured by the potential he has found in his machine.
Due to the challenging weather endured so far, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will now continue its testing programme into tomorrow, with track-action scheduled to resume at 10:00hrs local time (09:00GMT).
Alex Lowes: “It’s been a long day as we have had a lot of new software to try, but we have slowly plodded away and made some really good steps throughout the afternoon; which is always nice. I’m really happy with my times, on race tyres it was good and it’s also the fastest I’ve ever been round here so that’s great, but obviously it’s difficult to compare because of the track conditions. I’m really enjoying riding my GSX-R again and getting on well with all the new guys: I just need to stay patient and keep working hard so that when we get to round one we have a proper understanding of everything and we can then put it all into a race situation.”
Randy de Puniet: “It was an interesting day because finally, around 1-1:30, we went on track, the track condition was more-or-less the same as yesterday but we were luckier as there was no more rain so we were able to ride until six. We worked a lot, adapting my riding style to the bike, working on the electronics, suspension and the gearbox, because I struggled a little bit with this, but we found a solution and I’m quite happy. I didn’t try the qualifying tyre because it was not the right moment for me; I prefer to spend more time on the track with the race tyres to understand the drop and the right settings for the race distance. Alex set very good lap times and this proves the new engine-spec is good and the bike has a really good potential so I just need to continue to work and to reduce the gap with him. I’m confident, it is only early days for me on the bike and I hope the weather will be good for the next few days to continue our work in this direction.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager: “The team is happy with the work we have got through today, considering the limited-time with the circuit being damp this morning. Alex spent a lot of time working through a completely new engine-brake strategy – which ultimately wasn’t successful – but as a team we are very pleased that he was patient, gave the right feedback, and then when we returned to the standard strategy, was immediately competitive. The 1’40.9 on a race tyre is outstandingly-fast and then to back-that-up with a solid lap on the qualifier and end the day P1 in the first test of 2015 is very encouraging. We were competitive in the winter here last year – maybe not quite as good as today but close nonetheless – so we won’t be getting carried away! We will keep working very methodically and just try to improve all areas of the bike. The one element that is very encouraging is the 2015 engine-spec, which is giving Alex a lot of confidence for the season ahead.
“Today was Randy’s first decent dry-running on a World Superbike and he’s worked through all the normal niggles that a new rider to a new bike has; and has done a very solid job. Randy is very professional, very relaxed, and is fitting-into the team well. I have absolutely no doubt that the lap-times will improve dramatically as he gets fully-comfortable with the GSX-R, and that when it is time to push hard he will be very competitive.”