Misano WorldSBK: Lowes ‘closer than expected’ in podium hunt

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Kawasaki’s Alex Lowes had to fight hard to get back into top five contention at Misano on Saturday, despite a fourth place start on the WorldSBK grid, that owed much to following his teammate Jonathan Rea to help Lowes connect the dots of a strong lap more clearly.

“Yeah, he helped me out,” Lowes said of his teammate’s Superpole assistance in the qualifying. “Last year we were working together quite a bit at the end of the year. I wasn’t in the championship, so I was trying to help him a bit. I’ve been struggling a bit in the race on new tyres, so he gave me a little help there in qualifying, which is good.

“It was really good. It’s so tight now. The first three guys, if you think fourth to twelfth, it’s so tight. You each get a good qualifying. Like in the race, I got dropped back. It’s so hard to come back through.”

In general Lowes was happy with his race, which contained a few dramas.

“The race was good,” Lowes confirmed. “I had a good start. I was in fourth. I wasn’t that fast on the first laps. Rinaldi passed me on the straight. Then when Bassani passed me, to avoid hitting him, I had to go off the track. This put me to the back of the group.

“The track temperature was a lot hotter than we had all weekend. I didn’t have the confidence in the front to pass, so I was stuck behind Vierge for two or three laps, behind Locatelli for two or three laps but in general, my pace was not bad. This track, these hot temperatures, I expected to struggle a bit more, so I’m quite happy.”

A Lowes podium is a tough ask, at Misano in particular it seems, but he will be going for it on Sunday in any case.

“I didn’t have the pace today,” he admitted. “If Toprak stayed on track, the first three had some more pace. Then in this track, Rinaldi is normally pretty special. It’s his best track by far. Today, he was faster than me as well, but not by much. I’m closer than I expected. I think if I improve the bike a bit tonight, I think I can have a chance of being there tomorrow. So, normally the Saturday race or race one so far this year has not been that good. This was a good one. I feel good on the bike. I feel good. Let’s see if we can improve a few tenths for tomorrow.”

The two lead Ducati riders used the softest of the two development SCX tyres Pirelli brought to their home round, but not Rea or Lowes. That may be a race day two tactic for Lowes.

“They used a different tyre. On Friday afternoon, I did a long run on the other tyre, which Bautista used. Maybe tomorrow we can try something different. I also need to make a change. When the temperature gets hot like it was today, it’s the first time I tried the bike. The balance of the bike, I didn’t have enough natural turning. So, we have an idea of what to improve for tomorrow. So, this is the theory. The reality we will find out tomorrow.”