When Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty signed to ride the ageing Suzuki GSX-R1000 for the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team in 2014 few would have thought that they would leave the first major winter test of 2014 1-2 in the lap time rankings.
Fewer would have also put Lowes above Laverty at a track he has had much success at in the past, but at the end of two days at Portimao – his first ever two days at Portimao – Lowes was fastest rider there, with a 1’42.5 second lap that was a only a tenth better than Laverty. It was enough to prove that both the Suzuki riders and the Suzuki team have to be taken as a serious threat in 2014. Especially after good performances at the previous test in Almeria.
Lowes was understandably stoked by his pure pace, and also his race pace. “I am really happy and I know it will sound silly to say it but is not just the one off lap time I am happy about,” said 2013 BSB champion Lowes.
“I did a bit of a race simulation and did it at a good pace. Coming to a new track and with only a coupe of hours to learn it, I think we did well. It is quite hard work around Portimao and my fitness held me well - and I am having lots of fun.”
Laverty was second quickest 0.3 seconds up on Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda) who like his team-mate Leon Haslam had to take two extra days to get enough dry track time in. Haslam was seventh overall as the Honda team tried out its own new electronics system and software, as opposed to the Honda-inspired material they toiled so hard to work with in 2013.
Davide Giugliano was fourth fastest, again quick on the official Ducati Panigale, while Chaz Davies his team-mate was overall sixth in the unofficial times, one place down on Marco Melandri’s Aprilia. Sylvain Barrier (BMW Italia) was the best Evo bike rider, eighth but half a second behind Leon Haslam’s full SBK Honda.
Claudio Corti gave his full SBK Yakhnich MV Agusta a run-out to ninth overall, as the F4 MV took to the track for the second time since the new team was announced.
Both KRT and Pata Honda now head to Jerez for a final European test, on 5 and 6 February.
Final Day Test Times Portimao
1. Alex Lowes (GB), Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, SBK, 1:42,5
2. Eugene Laverty (IRL), Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, SBK, 1:42,6min
3. Jonathan Rea (GB), Pata Honda, SBK, 1:42,9
4. Davide Giugliano (I), Ducati, SBK, 1:43,0 min
5. Marco Melandri (I), Aprilia Racing, SBK, 1:43,1
6. Chaz Davies (GB), Ducati, SBK, 1:43,2
7. Leon Haslam (GB), Pata Honda, SBK, 1:43,5
8. Sylvain Barrier (F), BMW Italia, Evo, 1:44,0
9. Claudio Corti (I), Yakhnich MV Agusta, SBK, 1:44,5
10. Alex Hofmann (D), Aprilia Test Team, SBK, 1:45,0
11. Jeremy Guarnoni (F), MRS Kawasaki, Evo, 1:45,3
12. Michele Magnoni (I), Honda, SBK (Test Rider) 1:46,4
13. Fabien Foret (F), Mahi Kawasaki – no time given