Lowes finds required corner-exit gains at Aragon WorldSBK test

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Jonathan Rea stole the top time after two days of WorldSBK testing alongside his returning team-mate Alex Lowes, but second place behind Rea after missing some winter outings through injury and weather interventions was not a bad position to be in at the last tests before the season starts.

With 104 laps done on day two alone, Lowes was hard at it in Aragon, in sunny conditions that helped with the workload nicely.

“Winter in general has been good. I feel better on the 2021 Kawasaki,” Lowes told bikesportnews.com. “Today, if we speak just about today, I did a lot of laps, a couple of race simulations. My priority was to work on the electronics, especially coming off the corner in the hotter conditions this afternoon. I found some good steps. We need to put all the package together.

We found some good points here, some good points there. With the electronics we made a step forward, also with the rear of the bike on the suspension. With the Showa guys, I found a better feeling. So I’m looking forward to piecing it all together and coming back to start the party in a couple of weeks’ time.”

A one-two for Kawasaki’s new Ninja was not lost on Lowes, but he also had one caveat in his mind. “Yeah - of course Ducati is not here,” he said. “We know this track with the high speed is one of the strongest for Ducati. They won last year also as well as Jonathan. So we don’t know until we arrive at the first race, but from my side I feel quite good on the bike, like I said. I feel fast. I feel better than last year, so I’m ready to get started.”

Even after some enforced hiatuses this winter Lowes, entering his second year on a new but not revolutionised ZX-10RR in the official KRT, is already more prepared than he feels he was in 2020. “I feel a lot more prepared than last year, but then I won at the first round last year. Last year I didn’t feel ready in Phillip Island.

All the winter testing it was raining and I didn’t do many laps on the bike. Then now in terms of the team, I’m feeling settled in the team. Of course I’ve a lot more experience and know how to deal with the guys. I feel quite relaxed. I feel ready to go and I’m looking forward to it.”

Lowes won a race, then had some tough times, then scored some podiums again in 2020, so why was it all so challenging a top factory ride alongside the champion? “In general last year was quite difficult, after this COVID-hit season, the short season. I didn’t really have a fantastic feeling with some good confidence on the bike. This year, like I said, I had a lot of testing, a lot of preparation. I feel better, so I’m going to try to improve on my best result. In 2019 I finished third, so we will try to do better than that.”

Asked about running a lot of laps on the same choice of tyre option in testing, like he did in the past, Lowes said, “I didn’t really get a chance last year. You know how hard I work in testing. They always put me in a good position on the Yamaha. Now I just had a winter where I’ve been able to do what I want, put my style on the bike, if you like. It’s been a good couple days. I was a bit tired there at the end after 104 laps, but we’ve still got a couple of areas we want to improve on. In general, I feel quite happy with everything.”

Compared to his Montmelo outing, the only previous supported test against all his 2021 peers, Lowes is not only fitter after injury, he feels Motorland suits his bike a bit better. “The track itself is a bit more suited to the bike. Montmelo there are a lot of corners where you’re on the side of the tyre for a long time trying to bring the bike back to the apex, where the Yamaha is good for this type of thing.

“So we have been working on that, corners like the last corner, here in turn ten here. We’ve been working on that area, more from the electronics side just to try and give me the feeling that I need. Actually, I’m looking forward to getting back to Montmelo, a track like I said that I struggled on. I think what we’ve learned here can really help me.”

Electronics, and matching them to his style and vice versa was a big factor in Lowes latest Aragon test, as he explained, “Especially in the heat we seem to spin a bit too much. I can’t create the grip that I want. It’s one of the things we want to improve a bit more. We tried some different strategies on the electronics which allowed me to hear the bike more.

It sounds worse than it is, but I can hear what’s happening a bit more. It allows me not to ride into the electronics, come away from the electronics and try to find the grip for myself, which is important for the last ten laps of the race. So that’s, in general, what we were working on these last couple of days, hence a lot of long runs and working old tyres.”

Lowes did try a Q tyre, but it had limited benefit for him : “I tried one this morning. I was only I think 0.4 faster than I was on the SCX. I did a good run on that. So I didn’t really do a fantastic lap, but still, not too bad. I was quite happy with it.”

Lowes declared himself ready for round one, where he just needs to finalise his race day package in practice. His ideal scenario is - of course - to win one of the opening rounds of the season, like he did last year at Phillip Island. A big ask for any rider, but he is ready to get into battle now, with the first round just a couple of weeks away.