The 2015 World Superbike season will see a shakeup for the series, as new cost-saving regulations have dramatically altered each bike. For the Crescent Suzuki World Superbike Team, 2015 not only poses a new challenge with the GSX-R1000, but it also introduces a new rider, as Suzuki MotoGP test rider, Randy de Puniet, will line up with Alex Lowes to form Suzuki’s two-man attack on the championship. Here, Team Principal Paul Denning gives his thought on the year to come.
As you will be aware, ex-MotoGP racer Randy de Puniet has joined the team for the 2015 season. Having spent the past year developing Suzuki’s 2015 return to GP competition with the all-new GSX-RR, Randy is eager to return to competitive racing and is confident of achieving his goal of becoming a consistent championship and podium challenger. While he will continue to work with the GP team testing, in advance of the introduction of Michelin MotoGP tyres for 2016, the FIM Superbike World Championship will be his priority and main focus.
The team’s recent Jerez test proved positive, despite the weather’s determination to hamper proceedings. The 2015-spec Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 is showing greater performance and consistency compared to the competition – the new regulations, as expected, have levelled the playing-field. Alex recorded the fastest lap-time of all riders on both race and qualifying tyres (1’40.9 and 1’40.7 respectively) during the dry conditions, while Randy adapted to the GSX-R1000 Superbike quickly, feeling confident and comfortable in both wet and dry-running.
The test was also the first opportunity to work with the new team structure and staff while saying farewell to Phil Marron, Carl Meakin and Scott Kennedy. Pete Jennings returns to Crescent as Alex’s Crew Chief, with two new recruits, Melvin Newnes and Andy Berzins working alongside him and Ian Campbell. Lez, Dale, Russell and Ash will continue working together on Randy’s side of the garage. Christophe Lambert is the final addition, as Data Technician to Randy; Davide Gentile continues to oversee the electronics department, working directly with Alex during race weekends with Tim Seed in a supportive role to both.
The Verwood Headquarters will also see an expansion next year with the purchase of a new bespoke facility for the race team. Situated just behind the current location, the new workshop will be solely for the WSBK race team, providing a dedicated base for engine building, engineering and bike preparation. The facility will also allow the team to create VIP invitations for clients and partners visiting the team, and provide additional opportunities for team sponsors.
The 2015 calendar has now been issued, with 14 rounds (28 races) confirmed on the schedule. Thailand is the sole new-venue addition, with Russia returning after a year’s absence and 2014’s eight main European rounds and four “flyaways” remaining at the same venues, allowing for growth and consistency in the Championship platform.
The team are hard at work in the run-up to the winter testing ban – concentrating on engine preparation, overall weight optimisation, wind tunnel testing in Italy (January) and the extensive project of transferring the electronics system to the industry-leading Magneti Marelli hardware. We will return to Southern Europe for two further tests, in Portugal and Spain, at the end of January before the freight leaves for Australia and the first race weekend of the season at Phillip Island, on February 22nd.