Voltcom Crescent Suzuki began its Spanish preparations with a three-day test at the Jerez circuit this week ahead of the second round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Aragon, with Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes both riding their Suzuki GSX-R1000’s for the first time since the opening races of the season at Phillip Island in Australia on February 23rd.
Laverty spent much of the track-time testing a new rear swingarm, with a focus on improvements to grip and corner exit stability. He also assessed an upgraded engine specification provided by the team’s engine partner, Yoshimura, which yielded interesting results, and will be assessed further, back at the Crescent HQ, and at the Imola test in May. Laverty finished the test in positive spirits after finding a significant improvement in the GSX-R’s turning ability late on day-two.
Despite a small crash on the morning of the first day, Lowes performed consistently, despite some physical restrictions from his recovering foot, broken at the Phillip Island event. Despite poor weather on Wednesday, Lowes looked and felt more comfortable and posted the second-quickest time in the brief dry portion of the day. He was also able to test the new swingarm with promising results – it is likely that both the riders will start the Aragon race weekend with this new part, developed with British chassis and fabrication specialist FTR.
Bright and sunny conditions, and an air temperature of 20°C, allowed a full schedule of track-action at the Andalucian circuit on the first two-days, despite the strong southerly winds which resulted in Lowes’ early off. The British-based team made the most of the dry conditions in the initial stages, as the forecast changed to persistent rain for the final day, severely hindering proceedings. Despite a more frustrating test than anticipated by the team and riders, with both suffering from a lack of front-end confidence, turning ability, and weather set-backs, the team is confident that the information gained, and lessons learned, will be invaluable should they confront similar issues in the future.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will now head back to its UK Headquarters to evaluate the data and progress made so far, before continuing its preparation for the next round of the Championship at Aragon, in Spain, on April 13th.
"It was a tough test and we came across issues we haven’t experienced elsewhere, but I was happy that it finished well and that we learned a lot. We tested the new swingarm, and found some clear positives as well as some possible question marks, so now we need to decide on our starting point for the next round at Aragon. My first ever test on the GSX-R in Jerez wasn’t easy so maybe the track has something against us, because the bike has been brilliant elsewhere! That said, we ended up only 0.5s off the fastest race tyre time, and with a solid base to go forward from, so I’m looking forward to Aragon!"
"It has been a very difficult test but that's good coming off an injury, and a difficult round one. I have learned so much over the past month, and feel a lot better for it. We improved the bike on the final day even though the conditions were not as good, and I'm leaving in positive spirits for Aragon. A week ago I wasn't even sure I would be able to test, so everything learned this week is a big bonus for me, and I am hoping to be even fitter or close-to 100% when I turn up to round two. The whole team has worked so hard over these three days, and I really appreciate their efforts."