WorldSBK: Weekend turnaround for Lowes
In racing there are certain days when the world just throws everything back at you. You struggle to see where progress can be made. It’s easy to get in a hole and stay there. Wait for it to pass and move onto the next round. Saturday certainly had all the hall marks of a day like that for Alex Lowes but he learned from his mistakes and after Sunday’s action he was upbeat about his progress.
“To be honest on Saturday I made the wrong decision with the front tyre,” admitted Lowes. “I don’t have a lot of experience with the Kawasaki in the hot conditions and in the last few years I always used the [harder] SC2 front tyre. This was a mistake and the race was very difficult. On Sunday it was much better and in the Superpole Race I did well to come through and finish seventh.
“In Race 2 I was stronger today and my pace was strong compared to the guys in Race 1. It hasn’t been an easy weekend but in the end we took some points so it wasn’t bad. This weekend was the first time for me to ride the Kawasaki in these extreme temperatures. In Race 1 I didn’t understand anything and I had no confidence so I just tried to take some points. I have improved during every race and today wasn’t too bad. I am looking forward to Portimao already.
For Lowes the damage was done on Saturday with a disastrous day. Starting with a crash in the Superpole session it meant that he was on the back foot when he used the qualifying tyre for his time attack lap. Lining up on the fifth row of the grid was always going to make Race 1 difficult. Having chosen the wrong tyre he faced an impossible task. For Sunday he changed the front tyre to a softer option but he was an outlier on the grid having opted for the SCX compound rear tyre.
This tyre, developed for the ten lap Superpole Race, wasn’t designed with 20 laps of track temperatures over 60C. For Lowes though it was the tyre would allow him to feel confident. One that he felt would generate enough grip to give him confidence but one that he’d know he’d have to manage at all times. Tyre wear would be crucial and Lowes would be on a knife edge. If he pushed too hard the grip would disappear.
“I was competitive today and it is a shame we ran out of time. In the Superpole race it was good because I started 14th and to finish seventh gave me quite a lot of confidence for Race 2. It looks like compared to some of our rivals we lack a little bit of speed. We have to try to improve for next week.
“I feel good about this weekend because it’s when you arrive at a track with a lot of expectation with a bike and are slow it’s the most difficult time to go faster. You feel that you are under pressure and it’s easy to make a mistake by pushing too hard. This weekend was hard because the morning to afternoon is so different. I had to be calm, use the support of the team, and every race I improved. For me this was a successful race and I did a really good job and gives me confidence for Portimao although obviously the result was not what I wanted it to be.”
Having seen a winter struck by bad weather and limited mileage and then the Covid-19 enforced delay to return to action it was clear that the biggest handicap Lowes feels is that lack of experience.
“This weekend there was not much more I could do. I didn’t understand enough about the bike in these conditions. Johnny has five years experience with the bike but in the hotter conditions it was difficult for him also. I have to just learn from what happened and use this information for next time.”
Learning from his teammate will be the key for Lowes this year. Rea is a five times World Champion who has constantly maximised his chances. Even on Sunday there was lessons to be learned despite Rea struggling for grip.
“I could see that Johnny wasn’t fully comfortable in that race and my bike was better so I overtook him. Honestly, this is what is impressive about him though because he finds a way to manage every situation. He had a problem but made sure that he still got the best result he could. In Race 1 and the Superpole Race he was fast and even though some of the guys had a big advantage over him but in Race 1 to be so close was impressive. I think that Scott did a fantastic job but I think that Johnny is still going to be strong in the coming races.”
For Lowes the goal will be to keep adding to his memory bank with the ZX10RR and keep making progress.
Picture Credit: WorldSBK