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Feb 21, 2014

Rookie Alex Lowes Fastest In World Superbike FP2 At Phillip Island

Alex Lowes (22).

eni FIM Superbike World Championship

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

February 21, 2014

Free Practice Two Results (all on Pirelli tires):

1. Alex LOWES, UK (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:31.100

2. Marco MELANDRI, Italy (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:31.137

3. Davide GIUGLIANO, Italy (Ducati 1199 Panigale R), 1:31.205

4. Tom SYKES, UK (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:31.395

5. Jonathan REA, UK (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:31.436

6. Eugene LAVERTY, Ireland (Suzuki GSX-R1000), 1:31.448

7. Leon HASLAM, UK (Honda CBR1000RR), 1:31.533

8. Loris BAZ, France (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 1:31.637, crash

9. Chaz DAVIES, UK (Ducati 1199 Panigale R), 1:31.757, crash

10. Sylvain GUINTOLI, France (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:31.759

11. Toni ELIAS, Spain (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), 1:32.073

12. Niccolo CANEPA, Italy (Ducati 1199 Panigale R), EVO, 1:32.340

13. Fabien FORET, France (Kawasaki ZX-10R), EVO, 1:32.734

14. David SALOM, Spain (Kawasaki ZX-10R), EVO, 1:32.944

15. Glenn ALLERTON, Australia (BMW S1000RR), EVO, 1:33.118

16. Claudio CORTI, Italy (MV Agusta F4 RR), 1:33.119

17. Sheridan MORAIS, South Africa (Kawasaki ZX-10R), EVO, 1:33.635

18. Alessandro ANDREOZZI, Italy (Kawasaki ZX-10R), EVO, 1:33.996

19. Jeremy GUARNONI, France (Kawasaki ZX-10R), EVO, 1:34.279

20. Geoff MAY, USA (EBR 1190 RX), 1:34.640

21. Imre TOTH, Hungary (BMW S1000RR), 1:35.117

22. M. WALTERS, Australia (Kawasaki ZX-10R), EVO, 1:35.810

23. Aaron YATES, USA (EBR 1190 RX), 1:36.338

24. Peter SEBESTYEN, Hungary (BMW S1000RR), EVO, 1:39.076



More, from a press release issued by WSBK Dorna 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 Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike), who was seventh, Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), who dropped to sixth and Haslam's team mate Jonathan Rea, who eventually climbed to fifth in the final minutes.

Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team) suffered a spectacular high side at turn 9 and was taken to the medical centre for precautionary checks. Race 1 winner last year Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) rounded out the top 10.

A three way battle for twelfth place involved EVO riders NiccolòCanepa (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.

World Superbike action will resume tomorrow morning for the third free practice session and the last chance for all riders to make it into the first Tissot-Superpole of the year.




More, from a press release issued by Pata Honda Superbike Team:

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 - 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.

More, from a press release issued by Althea Racing:

Canepa leads the SBK Evo riders on day one of qualifying at Phillip Island

First day of qualifying for the Althea Racing team at the Phillip Island circuit. Niccolò Canepa and his team were out on track today, hoping to consolidate the positive results obtained during testing earlier this week.

In the first practice session the track was wet, with rain having fallen throughout the morning. Only towards the end of the session did the track begin to dry out, but there were still damp sections and so team Althea preferred to play safe, with Canepa remaining in the garage. The track had dried in time for afternoon qualifying, though dirty sections and strong winds did not facilitate matters for the riders. Canepa worked with his team to adapt the 1199 Panigale R to the altered track conditions and in the final phase, he was able to record a lap time of 1’32”340, which placed him twelfth, leading the Evo riders.

Niccolò Canepa again demonstrated that he is among the favourites in the Evo class; the difference between his times and those of the Superbike riders remained similar to the pace he showed during test.

Niccolò Canepa: “This morning the track was wet and we preferred not to ride while this afternoon track conditions were very difficult and totally different to what we faced during testing. The track was dirty and the wind gave us trouble. At the start I had difficulty finding my rhythm and only in the final stages was I able to find the right pace. I tried the soft tyre but I didn’t get on well with it and I recorded my best time on a hard tyre. We had to work to adapt my Panigale to the track conditions but without changing absolutely everything. We consolidated our position at the head of the Evo pack and tomorrow I hope that the track has better grip so that we can try to improve and get into the top ten.”

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:

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”.

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

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.”

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:

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).

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. 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. “

Eugene Laverty:

“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.

“Eugene tried a few small adjustments this afternoon but with the weather conditions as they were, and the amount of laps and success he’s had at Phillip Island previously, there was no need to push too hard. He looks super-smooth on the track and at this point in the weekend we hope to have both the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki riders challenging for top results on Sunday.” 



More, from a press release issued by Team Hero EBR:

Top 20 For Team Hero EBR On Opening Day

Team Hero EBR have had a positive first day at Phillip Island with Geoff May and Aaron Yates continue to evolve the all new EBR 1190 RX machines.

The all new American team, who only turned a wheel for the first time on Monday, are having to contend with a totally new circuit in addition to having no pre-season testing, but that hasn’t prevented an impressive improvement from both riders with every lap completed.

The first Friday session at the iconic Phillip Island circuit, Australia was a complete wash out as the heavens opened throughout the morning, meaning there was little point for the team team to take to the track. In fact only 8 of the full time superbike competitors recorded a lap time.

This afternoon however was a different story as the sun and wind dried the 4.4km circuit allowing Geoff and Aaron to complete 20 and 17 laps respectively. Both riders continue to improve and with the added satisfaction that as it currently stands Geoff is in the final superpole spot of 20th the team have every reason to smile.

Geoff May – Team Hero EBR: ”We are continuing to improve the bike and constantly trying new things. It’s much better now on the back part of the section and on the run up to Lucky Heights. The bike is turning well, I just need a bit more drive but it will come. To be inside the top 20 is encouraging and we aren’t too far from the 33’s – let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Aaron Yates – Team Hero EBR: ”The bike is turning better now and I have a better feel which is encouraging. We are still working on the suspension to get more feedback with the tyres but we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

Both Hero EBR riders will be back on track for the final free practice session in the morning and if all goes to plan the Tissot Superpole sessions which are scheduled to start at 1500 local time.



More, from another press release issued by WSBK Dorna Press Office:

The SBK official App now available

Barcelona (Spain) 
- The SBK Live Experience App has been completely redesigned for 2014, with a new interface, new functionality, enhanced Live Timing, plus video highlights, exclusive features and the best content from every WSBK event.Available now on the iTunes App Store for iOS devices and on Google Play, for Android devices, the SBK app is also the only official app to provide Live Audio Commentary, Live Timing and all of the action from every round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship.

Video content includes highlights of the Tissot-Superpole and all races, plus podium and post race interviews, grid girl clips and so much more.

Latest news, updates during race weekends and between rounds throughout 2014, with exclusive content and photos from each circuit, as well as statistics and information about the series.

Expert analysis is brought to you through Live Audio Commentary from the worldsbk.com commentary team ensuring you are up to date with all of the action as it happens.

Available in English foriOS devices on the iTunes App Store and for Android devices on Google Play.



More, from another press release issued by WSBK Press Office:

Fassi Official WSBK Sponsor again in 2014


Barcelona (Spain), Friday 21 February 2014 -
Worldwide leading company in lifting equipment Fassi Gru from Italy has confirmed their role as Official Sponsor for the 2014 edition of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship.


"Judging by the great experience from last year" said Giovanni Fassi, Managing Director of Fassi Group, "it was kind of an obvious choice to maintain our brand and our involvement within the championship."


Founded in 1946 in the town of Albino (north of Italy), the company is now globally recognised as the benchmark setter within crane industry. "This year's calendar and especially the two new rounds in Malaysia and South Africa" he continued "result in an even bigger international characterisation of the series. This represents a big opportunity for a company like ours, whose target is to be actively present in every continent."


Marc Saurina, WSBK Commercial and Marketing Director: “The clearest confirmation of the good results achieved so far is represented by the long-term presence of our partners. This is for us the greatest satisfaction and we are happy to include Fassi within our sponsors and to start together a new exciting season at Phillip Island."


Fassi billboards will be displayed alongside the tracks in the WSBK calendar throughout the season, and like last year in most rounds Fassi cranes will be exhibited within the paddock.


For further information about the company and Fassi products:

www.fassi.com