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WSBK Press Office
Alex Lowes ends Day 1 on top at the Island
Phillip Island (Australia), Friday 21 February 2014 - Only 37 thousands of a second separated Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) and Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) at the end of second free practice for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island. Following a wet morning session that saw only few riders taking to the track, the whole field made the most of the near perfect conditions to continue their preparation for the debut races of the year. Rookie sensation Lowes started off well by moving on top of the classification and kept the lead as the session progressed, followed by team mate Eugene Laverty.
Alex Lowes: "Today was good. The wind was really bad and affecting the bike a lot, but we still made some progress in certain areas. I'm looking forward to going out tomorrow and confirming that it is definitely better when the weather's more favourable. I really like Phillip Island; when a track is as windy as it's been today it is hard to enjoy it, but I think it's a great track, and I'm looking forward to the racing here.
As the on track action moved into the final stages, Melandri elevated himself to second ahead of fellow Italian Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), who also climbed up the timings in the late stages. The reigning Champion had an off track moment before regrouping to put in his session best, whilst on the other hand team mate Loris Baz suffered his third crash of the week, fortunately unhurt. The young Frenchman finished eighth behind... (read more)
Times Day 1: 1. Lowes (Suzuki) 1'31.100 average 175.653 kph; 2. Melandri (Aprilia) 1'31.137; 3. Giugliano (Ducati) 1'31.205; 4. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'31.395; 5. Rea (Honda) 1'31.436; 6. Laverty (Suzuki) 1'31.448; 7. Haslam (Honda) 1'31.533; 8. Baz (Kawasaki) 1'31.637; 9. Davies (Ducati) 1'31.757; 10. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1'31.759; 11. Elias (Aprilia) 1'32.073; 12. Canepa (Ducati) 1'32.340; 13. Foret (Kawasaki) 1'32.734; 14. Salom (Kawasaki) 1'32.944; 15. Allerton (BMW) 1'33.118; 16. Corti (MV Agusta) 1'33.119; 17. Morais (Kawasaki) 1'33.635; 18. Andreozzi (Kawasaki) 1'33.996; 19. Guarnoni (Kawasaki) 1'34.279; 20. May (EBR) 1'34.640; 21. Toth (BMW) 1'35.117; 22. Walters (Kawasaki) 1'35.810; 23. Yates (EBR) 1'36.338; NC. Sebestyen (BMW) 1'39.076.
After the poor conditions of the first free practice, the weather conditions had improved considerably by the early afternoon at Phillip Island, allowing World Supersport riders to take to the track and get up to speed in today's second session. The protagonists of the series did not waste any time in finding their rhythm in almost perfect conditions, with three-time WSS Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) setting the pace throughout the 45 minutes. The Turk suffered a technical problem down the main straight in the late stages, but the 1'33.618s lap time was quick enough for him to keep the top spot.
Scotsman Kev Coghlan (DMC-Panavto Yamaha) showed good form aboard his YZF-R6 as he claimed second place ahead of Core PTR Honda's Raffaele De Rosa... (read more)
FP2 times: 1. Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 1'33.618 average 170.929 kph; 2. Coghlan (Yamaha) 1'34.263; 3. De Rosa (Honda) 1'34.277; 4. Vd Mark (Honda) 1'34.294; 5. Cluzel (MV Agusta) 1'34.337; 6. Jacobsen (Kawasaki) 1'34.366; 7. Wilairot (Honda) 1'34.526; 8. Marino (Kawasaki) 1'34.721; 9. Tamburini (Kawasaki) 1'34.729; 10. Leonov (MV Agusta) 1'34.833; 11. Menghi (Yamaha) 1'34.854; 12. Wahr (Yamaha) 1'35.072; 13. Staring (Honda) 1'35.109; 14. Zanetti (Honda) 1'35.140; 15. Gowland (Triumph) 1'35.195; etc.
PATA Honda WSBK
Rea fifth in opening Phillip Island practice
Jonathan Rea was fifth fastest after today's two timed free practice sessions for Sunday's opening round of the 2014 FIM eni World Superbike championship at Phillip Island in Australia.
Rea's Pata Honda team-mate Leon Haslam was seventh fastest today but the two British riders are in close touch with pace-setter Alex Lowes, who is less than half a second quicker than the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP-mounted duo.
Indeed, by the end of the afternoon, the top 11 riders in today's opening sessions were covered by less than a second after this morning's opening free practice got off to a slow start with the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit still wet from morning showers.
Tomorrow morning's third free practice session will also be timed, with the 10 fastest riders automatically qualifying for the afternoon's second Superpole session. The riders with the 11th to 20th quickest times will go into Superpole 1, with the two fastest riders from that session going forward to Superpole 2 to determine final grid positions for Sunday's two 22-lap races.
Jonathan Rea - 5th, 1m31.426s
We continued with our testing programme from earlier this week when we completed a race distance on the C-spec tyre. We also wanted to try the bigger Pirelli tyre but we still need to do a bit more time on that. It was harder for me to do the lap time but it might be good for the end of the race, so we'll have to see. We have also refined our engine-braking strategies and I'm quite happy with that. I think the grip has dropped a little today and I experienced a bit of instability from the rear on corner exit so we need to look at that. It might be the new engine that we put in for the start of the season or the lack of grip, but it occurs in quite a few areas. It's a shame we missed the first session this morning but we'll do some more time on the big tyre tomorrow morning and also try Pirelli&rsq uo;s soft option to see if that is a potential race tyre, too. The wind changed a lot today and that made my problems in the last corner vanish because it really helped me to turn, but it also made it harder to get into turn one. Windy conditions here really do play with the set-up of the bike so we need to pay attention to that come raceday.
Leon Haslam - 7th, 1m31.533s
We're not a million miles away, in spite of the fact that we actually had a few problems. The front brake was dragging quite badly in a straight line, which obviously affected top speed, but also in the corners. We also had slightly different software for the engine-braking so had to use the whole session getting it back to where we were in the test; and we're still not quite there. I didn't use the soft today and felt pretty good on the harder tyre from the test. I think we could have gone a lot quicker but just ran out of time. Tomorrow, we need to do some work on the race tyres. There are three possible options, including two softer ones, so we'll have to see how they perform.
Ronald ten Kate
Ronald ten Kate - team manager
The morning was wet and, although it started to dry, the guys just did a few laps so we didn't really learn very much. With the dry track this afternoon we could really get on with it and, after his crash on Tuesday, Leon had no problems getting back up to speed and I think he did a good job. He may be seventh but it's all very close and, if you can gain two tenths, you can jump three places easily, so it's OK. For Jonathan, we changed the chassis set-up and electronics setting a little after the test and he also went OK. We tested some tyres, some of which didn't work so well, and with the softer option he managed to get fifth place, but again it's very close. There seems to be less grip than we had in the test and with a fresh engine in the bike we had to make some adjustments for this; bu t we're in touch, so let's see what happens tomorrow.
A NICE SECOND BEST TIME FOR MELANDRI AND GUINTOLI LAGGING A BIT OPEN APRILIA'S 2014 WORLD SUPERBIKE SEASON.
FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE AT PHILLIP ISLAND WITH THE MORNING SESSION THWARTED BY BAD WEATHER AND A VERY HEATED AFTERNOON SESSION.
Phillip Island (Australia), 21 February 2014 - This is just the first day of practice in a World SBK championship that promises to be well balanced, long and exciting. But the Friday practice and qualifiers that were held on the magnificent Australian circuit at Phillip Island put the first rankings on the record.
The Aprilia Racing Team took to the track for the first time with the RSV4 in its new silver livery which has already gained popularity with fans and the team.
Melandri, in his first round with the Aprilia RSV4 reigning Manufacturer World Champion, put a nice second best time on the boards. After the first morning session that was basically abandoned due to the wet asphalt and changing weather conditions that hindered a decisive choice for bike setups, the games got underway in the afternoon session. Melandri lapped quite a bit (20 laps), working on various setups and trying several technical solutions in anticipation of Saturday's Superpole and - above all - the races on Sunday. It was only in the last few minutes that he went out on the track with his sights set on a fast time and he hit the bullseye with a 1'31.137, just 37 thousandths of a second behind Lowes and ahead of Giugliano, Sykes, Rea and Laverty.
Marco Melandri: "This was not an easy day because of the weather, but it was definitely positive. Even with only one session we managed to follow the scheduled testing programme with good results. There is still room for improvement in many areas, but we are able to lap fast easily and that is a good starting point for Sunday's races. Tomorrow I'll try to focus efforts on speed and on the fast lap for qualifying because with times as close as they are starting as far up front as possible will be important".
The day didn't go quite as well for Sylvain Guintoli, winner on this track at the world championship's opening race last season. In the 16 laps he put in the best time the Frenchman put on the boards was 1,31.759 which relegates him to tenth place, although the gap is just 66 hundredths of a second from the leader. The French rider took advantage of the session to try out a few setup solutions on his RSV4, identifying the path he needs to follow in the weekend ahead. The small gaps (the top 11 are all within less than a second of one another) is indicative of just how well balanced this Superbike season is right from the start.
Sylvain Guintoli: "The first day went well. I was trying to confirm a few setups that we had to try before the race, so we used this session to check them. I wasn't looking for a top time. Besides, the strong wind bothered my riding quite a bit. Tomorrow we'll try to pick up the pace now that we know which direction to go. We need to prepare as best as possible for two long and difficult races".
LOWES FASTEST IN WORLD SUPERBIKE DEBUT
Team Suzuki Press Office - February 21.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki racer Alex Lowes attacked his inaugural outing on the World Superbike stage at Phillip Island in Australia today with the same panache that saw him become British Champion last year by taking the top spot in the second free practice session.
Changeable conditions saw only a handful of riders briefly take to the track in this morning's free practice, with the majority opting to wait for the afternoon session before setting a hot lap in the new timed format. Lowes quickly found his form, setting his fastest lap of 1'31.100, less than half-way through the session. The consistency shown by the Englishman continued as he set seven of 20 laps all under the 1'32 barrier.
Eugene Laverty, electing largely to use the track time to work on rear tyre evaluation, swiftly followed his team-mate to the top of the timesheets. He set a time of 1'31.448 a few minutes after Lowes - the second fastest time of the day at the midway point - and the Yoshimura-powered racers continued to hold the top-two positions for the majority of the session.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will now evaluate this afternoon's data in a bid to capitalise on the current form ahead of tomorrow's final timed qualifying practice at 09:45 local time (22:45 GMT) and the new-style eni FIM Superbike World Championship Superpole sessions commencing at 15:00 local time (04:00 GMT).
"Today was good. The wind was really bad and affecting the bike a lot, but we still made some progress in certain areas. I'm looking forward to going out tomorrow and confirming that it is definitely better when the weather's more favourable. I really like Phillip Island; when a track is as windy as it's been today it is hard to enjoy it, but I think it's a great track, and I'm looking forward to the racing here. I still need to work hard to see if we can be in a good position for tomorrow and the race on Sunday, we have a lot of refinements still to do with the electronics and the suspension so we'll put our heads together tonight and see what we can improve for tomorrow. "
"The weather turned on us a little bit today so we lost one practice session, but it was the same for everybody. The second practice we tried a different tyre and got some work done because we have got a lot of rear tyres to try and evaluate. We will have a study of the data collected and make a plan for tomorrow but everything so far is going to plan."
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
"For Alex to top the leader board on his first-ever timed session as a World Superbike rider is an amazing achievement for him and also hopefully indicates how far we've come with the bike since the end of last season. Clearly there is a lot of work still to do before we can be confident of challenging the best riders in the race, but we have had very good pace since the morning of the first day of the test and Alex has taken to the circuit and to World Superbike incredibly well.
Giugliano and the Ducati Superbike Team conclude today's practice in overall third place
The Italian rider scores the third fastest time of the day aboard his 1199 Panigale
Chaz Davies victim of a crash during the second practice session
Phillip Island (Australia), Friday 21 February 2014 - Bad weather conditioned the first day of track action for the Ducati Superbike Team today at Phillip Island. The two riders, Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies, were unable to make use of session one due to rain, but in the afternoon session Giugliano powered his 1199 Panigale into third position while Davies closed ninth, victim of a crash, though without physical consequences, towards the session's end.
The first practice session took place this morning in wet conditions (air temperature 19°C, track temperature 18°C) and the Ducati Superbike men, along with most of the other SBK riders, decided to sit out the session and wait for conditions to improve this afternoon. At the close of this first 45-minute session, only six riders had made timed laps.
Conditions picked up considerably in time for the afternoon session. On a completely dry track, Davies and Giugliano went straight out, ready to make the most of the 45-minute session, having lost out on valuable track time this morning. Giugliano made some fast laps in the first phase but put in his best lap in the final seconds of the session, moving up into third position thanks to a lap time of 1'31.2, just one tenth of a second from today's leader Alex Lowes. His team-mate Davies improved towards mid-session but unfortunately his session came to a premature close after a highside at Turn 9 ten minutes before the end of the practice. The British rider, despite the bad crash, fortunately didn't suffer any serious injury and closed the session in ninth position, with a best time of 1'31.7. Chaz will participate in tomorrow's sessions.
This season a rule change means that times from Friday's two free practice sessions and Saturday morning's practice are combined to establish who qualifies for Saturday afternoon's Superpole 1 and 2.
Quotes after the day's sessions:
Davide Giugliano - Ducati Superbike Team #34
"It's gone quite well this afternoon. We've had to try various things, considering how different track conditions were today compared to testing earlier this week. We worked on different bike set-ups and I'd say that we're at a good point. We also tested the new tyre compound; it was a little difficult to find a good feeling with it but once we went back to the tyres that we had used during testing things improved greatly and everything worked well. For now I'm fairly pleased but there's more work to do tomorrow of course."
Chaz Davies - Ducati Superbike Team #7
"It's been quite a difficult day. We lost time this morning because of the bad weather and so we needed a good session this afternoon. It was a pity about the crash because up until that point I felt that times were coming fairly easily. I hit my head but, after resting up tonight, I'll be ready to get back on track tomorrow and continue working with my team to find the best set-up for my Panigale at this track."