Suzuki’s Alex Lowes Tops Portugal World Superbike Testing

Voltcom Suzuki's Alex Lowes
Voltcom Suzuki’s Alex Lowes

2014 World Superbike Testing

With the mandatory testing ban officially ending Jan. 15, many World Superbike teams began testing their perspective machines ahead of the 2014 season, which begins Feb. 23 at Phillip Island.

The new Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team of Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty spent two days last week in Almeria prepping their Yoshimura-powered GSX-R 1000 superbikes, and then joined Aprilia Racing, Ducati Superbike Team and Honda Racing at Portimao in Portugal.

The first two days were a washout, but during the final two days the Suzuki riders were fastest. Laverty took the top time Sunday, and Lowes the top time on Monday.

While testing, the Suzuki duo worked on tuning the 2014 Öhlins suspension and newly-developed electronic control strategies. Lowes completed 165 laps over the two days in Portimao (725 kilometers of flat-out riding) on a track he had never previously ridden, while Laverty completed 133 laps. The distance covered allowed the team numerous chassis-setting evaluations to find the best balance for braking stability, steering and rear grip to further the developments made in Almeria last week, Suzuki says.

Laverty topped Sunday’s time sheets with an unofficial lap time of 1:43.4, though Lowes took the top spot overall in the combined two-day timings with a 1:42.5 as Laverty also improved to a 1:42.6.

Ducati Team's Davide Giugliano
Ducati Team’s Davide Giugliano

Third quickest went to Honda’s Jonathan Rea, followed by Ducati’s Davide Giuglianoa and Aprilia’s Marco Melandri fifth fastest.

Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R 1000 Superbike) says: “The test has been really good, I’m still learning a lot about the bike and obviously it’s a new track for me, so it was nice to have the opportunity to learn the track and still be quick!

“We did a long run today and while the times were good, the most important thing was that it gave me a lot of confidence. We got a lot of information about the bike and it was good for me as well, as I’ve not done a race simulation since the last round of BSB. I still need to improve myself a lot and work on the bike but we shouldn’t be too far away!

“A massive thanks to the team; they’ve been working really hard, late nights and two tests back-to-back. I think everyone is excited, we are all getting on great and we know we need to work hard. We have a big challenge in front of us and it’s nice to do a good job.”

Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R 1000 Superbike) says: “It’s been a good test in all. This Portugal test was the best yet; even yesterday we got some good laps in the wet to understand the bike and then in the dry our pace was really strong, which shows the work we’ve been doing on the electronics has been important and that our work is reaping the rewards.

“I think we are surprising some people as both me and Alex are right there, but it’s also nice to reward the team because they’ve worked incredibly hard over the last couple of months; especially since Jerez. The work they have done in six weeks, most teams probably wouldn’t complete in six months! They haven’t stopped, so I think it’s nice to see some positive potential being shown. I’m feeling good on the GSX-R and I’m looking forward to Phillip Island.”

 Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team 1199 Panigale) says: “We’ve got a lot done in the end. Unfortunately although the rain ruined the first two and a half days it was nevertheless useful as we were able to build confidence with the 1199 in the wet.

“I’m happy with what we’ve achieved, we’ve worked with the new material and I feel comfortable with it. I can say that I feel increasingly at ease with my Panigale. It’s just a pity about the red-flag at the end of the day today as this prevented us from making a final exit on fresh tyres which would have allowed us to close the test even more positively and to better understand the bike’s potential.”

Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team 1199 Panigale) says: “Despite the slow start, we were able to get a lot done and overall it’s been a positive test, although I can’t help but wish we’d had more dry time. Out of the four days we were only really able to get down to work in the dry today.

“It was important to test the various development pieces and understand how each one works, rather than finding a general set-up with which to make a fast time. It would have been nice to be able to up the pace, but unfortunately we ran out of time. Anyway we will take what we have learned here in Portugal and move on to the next tests in Phillip Island.”

Unofficial two-day combined times from Portimao World SBK Test: 1. Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 1’42.5: 2. Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) 1’42.6: 3. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’42.9: 4. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 1’43.0: 5. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) 1’43.1: 6. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 1’43.2: 6. Leon Haslam (Honda) 1’43.5.