MotoGP Portimao: Lowes heroic podium ‘one of my best ever rides’

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Sam Lowes produced an edge-of-seat heroic performance to finish on the podium at the Portuguese Grand Prix this afternoon, narrowly missing out on winning the Moto2 World Championship after a determined ride saw him home in third place.

Having already celebrated his impressive qualifying record by receiving the Moto2 ‘Pole of Poles’ award on Saturday evening, three pole positions, six additional front row starts, three victories and four further podiums complete what has been an excellent first season with the Marc VDS team after a pre-season shoulder injury had threatened to derail the Brit’s year before it had even begun.

Shaking off the pain caused by two broken bones in his right hand, Lowes fought until the final lap of the Portimão contest, despite the 30-year-old being previously unsure if he could even compete in the race after morning warm-up. Digging deep he was fighting with leading duo Luca Marini and Remy Gardner from the early laps, rising as high as second by mid-race distance before the damage started to take its toll.

After a small mistake had him out of his seat at turn 13, Lowes mounted an incredible late comeback, posting his fastest lap of the race – a 1’42.540 - on lap 19 as he attempted to close back in on the leading duo. His herculean efforts ultimately fell short, however, with the Marc VDS star coming home just 3.8 seconds behind race winner Gardner.

The result means Lowes ends the year third in the Moto2 World Championship after matching Marini on 196 points and three wins - the Italian getting the edge with his final second position - nine behind 2020 Champion Enea Bastianini.

“I honestly think this was one of my best ever rides” Lowes proudly explained after the race.

“There was a lot of pressure. I was really struggling in warm-up. I could hardly even ride the bike. This weekend I had done no laps. I had no idea what the pace could be. I have no idea how the team managed to set up the bike because I never managed to do three or four consecutive laps all weekend!

“I just have to say thank you to the team for this year. I hoped I could repay them with a good ride and a strong result. Everyone saw I didn’t give up until the end. That’s the most important thing for the team and the rider: just to do your best until the finish line and this is what we did!”

When asked how he managed to achieve a podium under such conditions today Lowes replied: “Honestly I have to say I don’t know because this morning I even said to my brother ‘I can’t ride, Bro, I’m struggling. I’m slow, I’ve got no pace and my hand’s sore.’ and he just said ‘oh, just see how it goes in the race’ so the Clinica did a good job, gave me some pain killers and I went for it!

“The last laps were tough, the pace was a lot quicker than I had gone all weekend so I didn’t really know how the bike was going to react but I gave it everything. I’m really, really proud of that ride because it came from nowhere, really, honestly I’ve not had any pace all weekend, I didn’t want to say too much before but a couple of broken bones is difficult at Portimão, it’s not like some other tracks where you could get away with it a little bit. It’s full action from the first lap to the end. I’m not sure where it came from but I had a go. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough but I can hold my head high.

Reflecting on the end of the season compared to his early aspirations, the Brit acknowledged: “When you’re in the winter and training, like every rider, you think about winning and you want to do your best but last winter I was training hard but my mentality was ‘lets just be competitive and get back to being at the front, you’ve got a great ride, some people don’t think you deserve it so just get back to being competitive and being at the front and then see what happens.’ Obviously I’ve done that and exceeded that a little bit so this winter I can train hard and focus every day on trying to win the championship next year. That slight attitude/mentality difference will obviously be the key into next year. The team’s great and I just can’t wait to get started on 2021.

“Last week was rough, today was a little bit better in some ways but honestly if someone would have told me today I was going to finish on the podium I would have given them my whole bank balance, everything, to do it, there was no way! So with two laps to go when I was just clinging on and then I crossed that line I was really proud, honestly I couldn’t have done any more and the support the last few days from back home has just been incredible. Without that I wouldn’t have been able to do that, this weekend. Some tough moments. I know the last years I’ve not been as competitive but everyone that’s stood by me, it means a lot, more than I can say and hopefully this year has got you back on the Sam Lowes train!”