Saturday, February 22

GSX-R1000s BACK ON TOP!

THE Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000s of Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty top the order heading into the final qualifying sessions of the opening round of the 2014 eni Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island on Sunday.

In a much faster 45 minute session than the second 'free' practice session on Friday afternoon, Lowes and Laverty got into the one minute 30 second bracket and Lowes ended up fastest with a best of 1m 30.5s while Laverty scored a best of 1m 30.8. 

Just eight tenths of a second separated the top 12 bikes in the session, a far cry from the spread out field in the 'premier' class, MotoGP.

While the Suzukis were the surprise, so too were the next two bikes on the time sheets - the factory Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies.

Sure, Carlos Checa put the 1199 Panigale on pole for the first race at the Island last year, but he crashed in the opening race and it was all down hill from there, with the Panigale being beaten in the final races of the season by the old steel-framed 1198!

However, Ducati has now stepped back into the fray as a factory team, and the results are starting to come.

Giugliano was also third fastest in FP2, but Davies was down the order in that one after a high-side crash on the top of Lukey Heights. Fortunately he was not injured and the Panigale appeared to escape serious damage as well.

So at the end of FP3, it was Suzuki-Suzuki, Ducati-Ducati with the ZX-10R Kawasaki of defending champion Tom Sykes in fifth place.

But the top 12 are very close together so final qualifying is going to be well worth watching!

Another surprise was Nicolo Canepa on the Althea Ducati ending up sixth fastest - just behind Sykes - on an EVO class machine.

Interesting times indeed.

For a full analysis of the lap times in FP3, click here