Alex Lowes made a significant career jump for 2020, joining the all-conquering Kawasaki WorldSBK team alongside five-on-the-bounce champion Jonathan Rea.
It was a move many believed had to happen as Lowes and the Yamaha package just weren’t quite strong enough to challenge for wins on a regular basis but now the Derby rider has arguably the most sorted bike on the grid underneath him.
There will be two more days of dry track time - hopefully - at Phillip Island’s official test before the season kicks off the Lowes isn’t feeling the pressure of the new challenge.
“To be honest I’m not too nervous. I was more excited about a new challenge and the challenge of trying to understand and adapt to a different bike after being on the R1 for four seasons,” he told bikesportnews.com
“I need to give myself a bit of time to keep improving. We have been unlucky with the weather this winter so I haven’t had so many dry laps. I am still at the stage with the bike where every exit I am improving which is exciting.”
Although the ZX-10R and R1 are very different beasts, Lowes hasn’t found the transition too difficult.
“I’m working out the best way to ride the bike and the feelings it gives me in the corner. In the faster corners the R1 was so strong and just turned naturally.
The ZX-10R still turns but the sensation you get from the front is completely different to achieve the same thing. So I have been trying to adapt to this.
“It’s stable on corner exit. It’s a really strong point and something you always look for with this bike is the corner exit.
“It does nothing amazing but it does everything very very well. The front-end stability on the brakes is impressive. It’s a really fun bike to ride. With the mixed weather, I have ridden it in all conditions always with a smile so this is really positive.”
With a new team comes a new crew chief in the shape of Marcel Duinker, who was head of spanners for Leon Haslam last year and for Tom Sykes when he was champion. He will be Lowes’ third crew chief in WorldSBK.
“It’s always difficult when changing crew chiefs. I have been very lucky to have such a strong relationship with all the guys I have worked with.
“Ian Prestwood who I had a great understanding with then Andrew Pitt who really understands the weekends well from a sporting side. Obviously his experience of being world champion helps to extract the most on a race weekend.
I have learned a lot from all of the guys I have worked with so now with Marcel and I feel a lot more prepared to make a quick adaptation. He is a very smart guy with a lot of knowledge. We have really hit it off from the first test so I am sure it’s going to work well.”
There is a five-time world champion on the other side of the garage and the two crew chiefs aren’t exactly at the top of each other’s Christmas card lists. But Lowes says he has all been fine with Rea so far.
“We have mutual respect. He is five-time world champion and many things he does with the bike and also with the team are impressive. Of course I am joining the team with a lot of motivation so I don’t believe I’ll be able to have the same relationship as I shared with Mikey van der Mark for example.
“But it’s no problem for me we get along absolutely fine. I am here to learn as much as I can from Jonathan which can enable me to improve and fight to be a world champion.
“I don’t expect the same level of help that JR gave Leon for example. I don’t think I’ll be towing off him. But at the same time that’s fine with me. He is the rider to beat. The focus for me is clearly on myself, to improve and enjoy my new challenge with the KRT racing team.”