News Phillip Island World Superbike | Suzuki's Lowes Leads Friday Practice

Phillip Island World Superbike | Suzuki’s Lowes Leads Friday Practice

Voltcom Suzuki's Alex Lowes at Phillip Island.
Voltcom Suzuki’s Alex Lowes at Phillip Island.

2014 Phillip Island World Superbike Friday Practice Results

The first practices of 2014 World Superbike got underway Friday at Phillip Island in Australia.

This year’s practices play a more significant role in the round due to the rule changes in Superpole; World SBK now has a practice/qualifying format similar to MotoGP. Following practice, the top 20 riders will battle in two, 15-minute Superpole sessions. The top 10 of those riders will go directly to Superpole 2. The other 10 will battle in Superpole 1, with the top two riders of that session heading to Superpole 2.

Friday’s morning session was a washout, with only a few riders venturing on the track. But the second practice was held under nearly perfect conditions, allowing all riders to tune their perspective machines.

Taking the lead time was Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes. The rookie began the second-practice session quickest, followed closely by his teammate Eugene Laverty. Lowes held the lead for most of the day, but Aprilia Racing Teams Marco Melandri closed in at the end of the day.

When the session completed, Lowes posted a 1:31.100 around the 2.7-mile circuit. To put this time into perspective, the lap record is a 1:31.168 (Laverty, 2013, Aprilia). Melandri followed a near 0.037 behind. He was the only rider within a tenth of a second of Lowes.

Finishing third was Ducati Superbike Team’s Davide Giugliano, who was 0.105 of a second behind the leader. The reigning World Superbike Champion Tom Sykes jumped a few positions in the final stages of the second free practice. The Kawasaki Racing Team rider, who ran off the track at one point but didn’t crash, finished fourth, 0.295 of a second behind Lowes.

Sykes teammate Baz wasn’t so lucky; he crashed for the third time this week (two earlier this week at preseason testing), but was able to finish eight behind Pata World Superbike’s Leon Haslam, who was seventh, last year’s race2 winner Laverty, who dropped to sixth, and Haslam’s teammate Jonathan Rea, who climbed to fifth in the final minutes.

Ducati Superbike Team’s Chaz Davies finished ninth, but his day ended in the medical center. Davies suffered a high side at turn 9 and was taken to the medical center for further checks. Rounding out the top 10 was Aprilia Racing Team’s Sylvain Guintoli, who won race 1 last season; the Frenchman was 0.659 of a second off Lowes time.

Finishing 11th was Red Devils Roma Aprilia’s Toni Elias, 0.973 of a second off the top pace. The former Moto2 Champion was the final rider to sot within a second of Lowes.

A three way battle for twelfth place involved EVO riders Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati), Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) and David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team), with Italian Canepa coming out on top to lead the EVO field.

As for the Americans aboard the Team Hero EBR 1190RX superbikes, Geoff May finished 20th, 3,540 seconds off the top time, and Aaron Yates 23rd, 5.238 seconds behind.

The third and final free practice of 2014 Phillip Island World Superbike occurs Saturday morning ahead of the first Tissot Superpole of the year.

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