Brave seventh for Suzuki and de Puniet on WSBK debut

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki?s Randy de Puniet completed his debut weekend in the World Superbike Championship with a seventh place finish in the final race of the afternoon at Australia?s Phillip Island today.

Motivated by his initial outing on the Yoshimura-powered Superbike, and with 22 race laps under his belt, de Puniet ran a determined race two. Fighting his way up from his 11th place start, he joined the top-ten battle on his second lap, rising to seventh with four laps to go and claiming nine points at the start of his campaign. Struggling with his injuries from the earlier testing accident which caused a severe case of arm pump, the Frenchman fought hard for the beginning of his debut race, circulating strongly in 8th before a collision with another rider at turn two saw him run wide, crossing the line in 17th. Relegated to 15th at the start of the opening race, Alex Lowes fought back hard on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 regaining six places as he moved his way through the pack, tussling with Troy Bayliss and his teammate at the half way stage, to finish ninth at the flag. Regrouping for the second race, a technical issue saw the young Briton pull in on the sighting lap, but after re-joining the race from the pit-lane Lowes was forced to retire. With air temperatures a steady 30°C throughout, the light cloud allowed track temperatures to drop slightly between the two races, the midday outing peaking at 42°C. Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and Aprilia’s Leon Haslam battled for first and second positions, sharing one a piece across the two races with Ducati’s Chaz Davies collecting the third position in both. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki returns to its UK base to prepare for the second round of competition as the World Championship travels to Asia for its inaugural race in Thailand on Sunday 22nd March. Randy de Puniet: “It was a horrible Sunday for me, I was in a lot of pain and the first race was a disaster. After six laps I was not able to ride because I had pain everywhere, plus arm pump, so it was impossible to brake or to accelerate, and I tried to manage a good position – I think I was ninth and should have been able to finish tenth. Unfortunately Camier hit me, I went straight on and finished 17th so I’m a little bit disappointed. I was worried again about my physical condition for race two but luckily I was able to manage it better, and I finished seventh. Until the middle of the race I was only four seconds from the lead but after that I started to struggle again, I tried to keep a good rhythm and finished seventh, which is a good result in this condition. Without the no score in the first race it would have been possible to be seventh in the Championship, I’m 11th which is a shame but after everything this week this is not so bad. Now it’s time for me to recover and get fit for Thailand. I want to thank the team for everything and also the Clinica Mobile for helping me to ride this weekend.” Alex Lowes: “I just don’t know what to say. Me and the team have put in so much work all week to have a strong package for today and from the very start of the warm up session to the end of my second race, everything that could go wrong, did. It’s impossible to point the finger at anyone or anything, everyone has been putting in so much effort to support me and get the GSX-R in the front group and we managed that all week but today it fell apart. Right now I just feel flat but we’ll get back, get re-focused and rebuild for the second round of the Championship. There is still a lot of racing left to do!” Paul Denning: “To detail the problems we had today would need a lot more than a quote in a press release so I’m not going to try, just suffice to say that this is the most disappointed I think I’ve ever felt at a race track at the end of the day based on the potential of what we could have achieved compared to what we did. If I was forced to pick any bright spots then Randy’s very brave performances, especially in race two, would be one. He really wasn’t in the condition to be riding a motorcycle so to finish seventh in the amount of pain and discomfort he was suffering was a great effort. “As a team we will regroup, take the positives of the really strong performance potential shown by the bike, and of course Alex, this week and make sure that we approach round two in a positive way and get back involved with the fight at the front because there is no doubt that rider and machine are capable of that.”