Suzuki’s Alex Lowes has completed his shakedown for the 2015 world superbike season in the best possible way, setting the fastest time in a two-day test session at Phillip Island ahead of the championship opener at the Victorian circuit this weekend (February 20-22).
Lowes, about to start his second year in the production-based series, set his fastest time of 1min30.859secs in this morning’s third two-hour session, taking maximum advantage of the cooler conditions on offer to dip under Chaz Davies’ existing lap record.
“We’ve had a good day and got through a detailed test program, there’s not too much that we wanted to try that we haven’t really, so it’s been a difficult two days for the mechanics working really hard! The GSX-R is pretty good now, we’ll make a few changes over the weekend depending on the temperature and some minor things to try with electronics and the chassis but the biggest improvement still to come is from me and I know a few areas I can ride differently.
“I enjoyed it a lot today, did a race-run, put a lot of effort in and tried to keep within the limits. Thanks to the lads for all the hard work, hopefully we’ll keep progressing over the race weekend.”
Series rookie Jordi Torres (Aprilia), 2013 world champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki), Leon Haslam (Aprilia) and Davies (Ducati) also set their best lap times in session three, and completed the Phillip Island hitout in positions 3-6.
Meanwhile, boom Kawasaki recruit Jonathan Rea was second fastest, and like Lowes dipped below Davies’ circuit benchmark.
Spaniard David Salom (Kawasaki) and another rookie, Nicolas Terol (Ducati), completed the top eight, followed by 2014 world supersport champion Michael van der Mark (Honda) and Davide Giugliano, the factory Ducati rider sitting out day two after a huge crash on Monday which saw him diagnosed with a small fracture to the L1 and L2.
The Italian has been confirmed a scratching for round one, while another to crash at high-speed on day one, Lowes’ teammate Randy de Puniet, managed to cobble together a few laps today but was clearly hampered by heavy bruising. He will be okay for round one action.
A number of riders also crashed today, all unhurt, including Sykes, world champion Sylvain Guintoli (Honda) – still recovering from injury after a big spill at Jerez a few weeks back – Sylvain Barrier (BMW) and Leandro Mercado (Ducati).
Guintoli completed the test in 12th, behind the impressive EBR machine of Italian Niccolo Canepa, who has joined the American-Indian team in 2015 and is making an instant impression.
The Australians in the world superbike class both improved in the afternoon session with Cessnock’s Matthew Walters clocking his fastest ever lap around the island on the Pedercini Kawasaki, with a 1m33.354 s lap to be 19th overall.
Just behind was Eltham’s Jed Metcher whose Kawasaki was plagued by electronic problems this morning. The 24 year old managed a two day best this afternoon with a 1m33.57s time to finish 20th overall on the time sheet, out of 25 riders.
In world superior testing, 2014 round one winner Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta) and his teammate Lorenzo Zanetti will head into round one as the ones to beat after both dipped below the existing race lap record for the class, Cluzel producing a stunning 1:32.967 – the first ever sub 1:33 lap of Phillip Island.
Behind the flying MV Agusta duo it was former multiple champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) and Marco Faccani (Kawasaki), who impressed in fourth on his Phillip Island debut. French sensation Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki) and American teammate PJ Jacobsen rounded the top six, with Australians Aiden Wagner (Yamaha), Glenn Scott (Honda), Alex Phillis (Honda) and Sam Lambert (Triumph) in 19th, 20th and 23rd positions.
Wagner sat out the majority of day two after engine problems, but showed enough speed on day one to show that he’s capable of mixing it with the international brigade this weekend.
All the teams and riders will now catch their breath before the world superbike and supersport titles get underway at Phillip Island from this Friday.
For tickets and camping go to the Swann round of the 2015 Superbike World Championship go to www.worldsbk.com.au or call the ticket hotline on 1300 728 007.
Top Times Follow
World Superbike – Best times from two day test
1 22 LOWES Alex (GBR) VOLTCOM Crescent Suzuki Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’30.859
2 65 REA Jonathan (GBR) Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’30.880
3 81 TORRES Jordi (ESP) Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils Aprilia RSV4 RF 1’30.971
4 66 SYKES Tom (GBR) Kawasaki Racing Team Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’31.075
5 91 HASLAM Leon (GBR) Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils Aprilia RSV4 RF 1’31.102
6 7 DAVIES Chaz (GBR) Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team Ducati Panigale R 1’31.296
7 44 SALOM David (ESP) Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’31.510
8 18 TEROL Nicolas (ESP) Althea Racing Ducati Panigale R 1’31.593
9 60 VD MARK Michael (NED) PATA Honda World Superbike TeamHonda CBR1000RR SP 1’31.854
10 34 GIUGLIANO Davide (ITA) Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team Ducati Panigale R 1’31.948
19 12 WALTERS Mathew (AUS) Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’33.354
20 77 METCHER Jed (AUS) Race Center – Demolition Plus Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’33.570
World Supersport – Best times from two day test
1 16 CLUZEL Jules (FRA) MV Agusta Reparto Corse MV Agusta F3 675 1’32.967
2 87 ZANETTI Lorenzo (ITA) MV Agusta Reparto Corse MV Agusta F3 675 1’33.229
3 54 SOFUOGLU Kenan (TUR) Kawasaki Puccetti Racing Kawasaki ZX-6R 1’33.555
16 41 WAGNER Aiden (AUS) Oz Wildcard Racing Yamaha YZF R6 1’35.055
19 68 SCOTT Glenn (AUS) AARK Racing Honda CBR600RR 1’36.328
20 20 PHILLIS Alex (AUS) Team Lorini Honda CBR600RR 1’36.733
23 17 LAMBERT Sam (AUS) Sam Lambert Racing Triumph Daytona 675 1’38.482