‘It has been not the easiest season for me’ admits Lowes

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Alex Lowes could hardly have had a better start to his WorldSBK life in 2020 with Kawasaki than to leave the opening round in the lead of the championship.

That lead lasted a long time after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the championship calendar hard, but after the eventual restart his season ended up with one win and four podiums, which was less than he had hoped for on the championship-winning bike. Sixth overall was hardly his early season ambition.

The gig alongside Jonathan Rea has not proven an easy one for any rider since the greatest ever joined Kawasaki, but Lowes was still a race winner, and part of the effort that gave Kawasaki the Manufacturers’ Championship after the final round in Estoril.

Do not underestimate how much this means to the producers, especially when Kawasaki has won it for six straight years and Ducati missed out on it by one single point this year. In a weird finish to the season, Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Pucceti Racing) was the rider who got the final points in the final race for Kawasaki, not either of the factory riders.

“It has been not the easiest season for me,” said Lowes, who fell twice on Sunday in Portugal. “Obviously I did not help towards the final points tally as much as I would have liked to have done, but thanks to Jonathan and Xavi Fores for his efforts today, it has been nice and well deserved win for Kawasaki.

“I really hope that next year I will be putting more points on the board for Kawasaki.”

Lowes, going into his second year as a Ninja rider, is looking forward to whatever upgrades are brought for 2021 but right now he looks more to himself and his bike set-up as much as anything else. Hence his short test at Estoril right after the race weekend.

“From my side, clearly we can see what the current bike can do with Jonathan, so I have so much improving to do on the current bike,” said Lowes.

“Every bike has its weakest and strongest points. Right now we do not know what is going to happen for next year but like I said, with the machine I have got today I am sure I could do a lot better job.

“My focus is on maximizing what we have got and unfortunately this year I have not been able to do that.

“I think that in World Championship racing one of the key things is to use the bike to the best of its abilities. Whatever you are riding. All the bikes are different and it is about maximizing that.”

Lowes was full of praise for Rea and his overall effort on Saturday at Estoril, when Rea made it six in a row.

“First of all I am so happy for all the Kawasaki guys and Jonathan,” said Lowes. “For the whole of KRT, and especially for the guys on his side of the garage.

“It is so hard to win a world championship let alone six in a row, so big respect to them. I am proud to be part of the team and let’s hope next year we can get involved too and make it a bit harder for him.

“In Superpole I feel like I did not do a very good lap on the qualifying tyre. There are quite a few corners here that you are on the side of the tyre for a long time and with the Q it just upset the front a bit, which I did not expect.

“In the race I got a good start but I wasn’t fast enough in the first few laps. I got into a battle with the two Hondas and I felt I was faster than those guys but they kept passing me and I would get back onto them, but and then the same thing would happen again.

“It was a bit of a frustrating race because I could not find my own rhythm. I feel that if I could have done, I could have got away a little bit.”

Sunday’s two races were ones to forget for Lowes, for the obvious reasons.

“A disappointing day obviously, to have two crashes,” he stated. “In the final race of the day I felt really good for the first ten laps in sixth place, and then fifth when unfortunately Johnny fell. I had a good battle with Michael van der Mark.

“We tried the softer front tyre like Jonathan did but it was completely gone on the right hand side. I slowed the pace to try and manage the tyre and still ended up making a mistake, so this was really upsetting for me.

“We need to work hard to improve and I am already looking forward to 2021.”